'Best day ever': Paratroopers return from Iraq, reunite with families at Fort Bragg
Posted February 19
Fort Bragg, N.C. — There were smiles aplenty at Fort Bragg early Friday morning as more than 70 paratroopers returned home after a nine-month deployment to Iraq.
The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived in the middle of the night at Pope Army Airfield, but that didn't dampen the celebration for family members and children who greeted them with signs, kisses and plenty of hugs.
Specialist Corzell White came home to find his daughter Mariah much bigger than when he left. Mariah was only two weeks old when White deployed to serve in Operation Inherent Resolve.
"Seeing (my family) taking care of themselves while I'm away, seeing (my wife Michelle) raise my daughter by herself and my daughter getting bigger. That's the hardest part because I'm not here," White said.
Paratrooper Xiomar Ruckel said he tried to prepare himself for the emotional reunion with his family.
"Deployed, I have to set all my emotions aside," he said. "Once I came back, it all just poured out once I saw my family."
Ruckel said he was excited to eat a home cooked meal and work on his car.
The paratroopers will enjoy a four-day weekend before heading back to Fort Bragg Tuesday to begin reintegration training.