Excitement Runs High at Late-Night Homecoming - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/14/06

Excitement Runs High at Late-Night Homecoming

It's probably the best possible way to start the New Year. The hour may have been late Tuesday night, but you'd never have known it from the excitement in Newman Gym at Fort Stewart. Like a pep rally, families cheered and anxiously waited for their soldiers to return from Iraq.

"He's been gone almost a year, so I'm very happy he's coming home today," said military wife Luann Brown.

For some, it will be the first glimpse they remember. "He came home a week before she was born and stayed a week after," said Margie Lee of her husband and baby.

When they arrived, the response was enormous, from loved ones and from comrades who'd already returned.

After a quick run through The Dog Faced Soldier and the Army song, families flooded the floor and the tearful reunions began.

"Feels great to see little Annabell and my wife Margie," said Sgt. David Lee. "She looks bigger than in her pictures."

A year away from family, the scene was repeated throughout the crowd. As soldiers headed for home, each had a distinctive request. "I don't care if my truck's running," said Spc. Willis Brown. "I don't care if there's money in the bank, just have some jerk chicken and red beans and rice waiting."

More troops are expected home tomorrow. The entire division is scheduled to return by the end of February.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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