3rd ID soldiers return home after 9-month deployment to Afghanistan

Soldiers reunite with family upon returning home from Afghanistan

FORT STEWART (WTOC) - It's an exciting morning at Fort Stewart as families prepare to reunite with their soldiers.

Around 100 soldiers made up of both 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters and the Georgia National Guard returned home Thursday morning after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The soldiers first arrived at Hunter Army Airfield, and then made their way down to Fort Stewart where a welcome ceremony was held.

The soldier's families arrived at Cottrell Field early Thursday morning to await their soldier's return.

"I was just excited knowing they were down here in the crowd and just anticipation," Capt. Wesley Dandridge said.

Capt. Dandridge reunited with his wife and four-year-old son. This was his first deployment.

"She's having to be mom, dad, handyman everything. So, I'm glad to be back and being able to help with that," Capt. Dandridge said.

While the Dandridge family reunited, the Grier family celebrated a first encounter.

"My daughter told me she was pregnant before I left and it's just been a long journey and this is the culmination of it all," SFC Randell Grier said.

During deployment, he became a papa. He got to hold his firstborn grandson, Luke, for the first time today.

"Oh, I love him. He's going to be spoiled rotten," SFC Grier added.

While the soldiers were thanked for their service, their families were also shown appreciation for the sacrifices they made during this deployment.

"I've never had to take care of this little one by myself, let alone barely taking care of myself by myself. So, I'm blessed I was able to rise to the challenge. But I'm certainly ecstatic that he's home with us today," Brittney Dandridge, wife of Capt. Dandridge, said.

"I would've loved for my dad to be there during my pregnancy, but we're excited for him to meet his first grandchild," Katie Grier, daughter of SFC. Grier said.

The Marne Band performed for the families as they waited and also during the welcome ceremony.

This group was part of three groups that deployed to Afghanistan. The third group is expected to arrive home next week.

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