Georgia troops return from Iraq duty - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia troops return from Iraq duty

April 19, 2006

Ft. Stewart -- It's been almost a year since the Georgia National Guard 48th Brigade left for Iraq. Tonight, they're coming home.

The first flight carrying 300 Georgia National Guardsmen will be greeted by the governor.

The energy is high in Hinesville as families anxiously await the arrival of the 48th Bridage. The 4,300 soldiers gathered on this same field just 11 months ago as they prepared to depart on their mission.

It was a mission that took soldiers into Baghdad and other areas of Iraq. And now as soldiers come home they'll be faced with the challenge of change. During their tour of duty the 48th was reclassified as light infantry, which means leaving their Bradleys behind as they come home.

Many families have already arrived at hotels around Ft. Stewart and are anxious to welcome home their husbands and sons.

"It's very exciting," says Soldier's Wife Erika Steed. "I'm worried because he's flying overseas again, but it's just more eagerness than anything else, it's just I can't wait to see him."

"Relief," said Soldier's Mother Johnnie Patrick. "I was proud to have them serve but well be glad to have them home."

The first of the troops arrives here at Cottrill field later tonight. The soldiers from south Georgia are expected to arrive on two flights, the first flight about mid morning and the second later that evening. This has been a long trip for soldiers, they left Iraq Sunday and have had to make several stops before they arrive back here at Ft. Stewart.

We've been told they have has some mechanical problems and a sand storm that delayed some soldiers from arriving tonight, and families say that's made them all that more anxious to see their loved ones.

And when soldiers do arrive in Georgia they will land at Hunter Air Force Base. Governor Sonny Perdue will also be there tomorrow to greet the rest of the soldiers and their familes.

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