200 More 48th Brigade Personnel Return - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/20/06

200 More 48th Brigade Personnel Return

More than 200 more Georgia National Guard soldiers returned home today after a year in Iraq. Counting their training at Fort Stewart prior to deployment, they've been separated from their families for 18 months. Despite a two-hour delay, families waited and cheered to welcome their troops home.

Just seeing the faces and the embraces is so emotional, especially when these friends and families have waited so long for this day to come. They certainly were excited. People drove from the north Georgia mountains and from the Florida line to make sure their soldiers know they've been missed.

From the early morning, excitement began to build in the stands of Cottrell Field as loved ones of the 48th Brigade soldiers gathered.

"I'm very excited," said  Sulandra Moore, there to greet her fiance. "I didn't get any sleep last night."

Michelle Hanners drove from suburban Atlanta to welcome home her stepson. "I'm very proud of him and what he's done and the decisions he's made."

Gov. Sonny Perdue said the men and women of the 48th had earned the respect and gratitude of all Georgians. "We want to hug their necks," he said. "They left as citizen-soldiers and came back soldier-citizens, ready to build a better Georgia."

When they finally arrived, the cheers and tears began to flow. Then families charged the field and when they found their soldier, they didn't let go.

"It's great to be back," said Staff Sgt. Michael Jackson. "It's been a year to be gone. I just missed everything, even trees and green grass. Thrilled to be back."

Those who returned today will have a couple of days here to spend with families, and then they'll spend a week or two at Fort Stewart for processing. Then they'll be back to their homes, families and civilian jobs.

The entire brigade is expected home by mid-May.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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