Hundreds of Third ID Soldiers March in Parade - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/17/06

Hundreds of Third ID Soldiers March in Parade

Those who've been keeping us safe overseas garnered some of the biggest cheers in the Saint Patrick's Day parade today. Last year, while the Third Infantry Division served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, their spouses and families marched in their place. But today the Third ID was out in full force, and so were its patriotic supporters.

"The main thing that's going to be on my mind is I'm glad to be home," said Staff Sgt. Tyrone Murphy. "I'm really glad to be home."

Sgt. Murphy and his fellow soldiers marched through the streets of Savannah. After missing last year's celebration, he's thrilled to be back for the fifth time in his favorite parade. "A lot of things have changed in Savannah, but one thing that hasn't changed is the support from the people, the civilians," he said.

The applause and cheers were deafening. But last year, this was just another day for soldiers in Iraq.

"It really wasn't until later in the day, we said, 'Oh man! We're missing Saint Pat's in Savannah!'" Capt. Rob Tier told us. "Unfortunately, they all kind of blended together, but in a good way. They're all kind of a blur behind us."

Now the only blur is the frenzy of the crowds and the kisses.

Their return is a sizeable presence. More than 650 soldiers took part in this year's parade, many of them for the very first time.

"It's very exciting to be back and to take part in the parade is very exciting also," said Sgt. Christie Speights. "I already have a warm feeling in my heart, because we're getting a lot of handshakes and 'congratulations' and 'welcome homes.'"

But they're also feeling for those who can't be here. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst wore a silver cuff as a reminder of those Third ID soldiers. "There's 267 of us who didn't come home, and so while this is a happy day for us, we have to remember those families that did suffer the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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