Hundreds More Return from Iraq - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/08/06

Hundreds More Return from Iraq

Another happy reunion at Fort Stewart this morning. More than 600 soldiers arrived after two flights came in at the same time. They included units from Statesboro, Glennville, the Atlanta area and some from the Alabama National Guard.

For those Coastal Empire families, today was the end of a long year and a half away from their soldiers. WTOC was there as families and friends lined the field looking for their soldiers.

Some of them worried this day would never come. Now they're just glad to have those they love back on Georgia soil.

As the band played "Georgia on My Mind," loved ones had soldiers on their minds.

"I've been a nervous wreck all morning," said Tiffany Price from Metter. "I couldn't eat. I'm just ready to see him."

"He called me this morning to make sure I was here," said Susan Morgan of Glennville. "I told him I was already here waiting impatiently."

After six months of training followed by a year in Iraq, when loved ones knew their soldiers had landed in Savannah, time seemed to drag. Some of these families had been here since early this morning. Some have been in town since last week.

Their soldiers were supposed to arrive then, but plane trouble halfway home had them arriving today.

"It's tough, but I don't care," said Susan Babot of Statesboro. "They're home on American soil. If I have to wait ten hours, I'll wait."

Finally, the busses rolled in and soldiers unloaded to cross Cottrell Field to anxious and open arms.

Commanders say the soldiers honored their country and their state. "They've done a hard job for a long time, and I couldn't be prouder and so should their families," said Lt. Col. Mark Davis.

Soldiers say they'll keep things simple for the next day or so. "Eat, sleep and catch up on missed time," was Staff Sgt. Todd Olsen's plan.

Beyond that, they'll figure out when the soldiers are home for good. As close to home as these soldiers are, they aren't there quite yet. After their time with families, they'll spend another week or so at Fort Stewart to turn in equipment and get ready to head back to their jobs, their families, and their homes.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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