Fort Bragg commander among those coming home
Posted December 22, 2011
Updated December 23, 2011
Fort Bragg, N.C. — For the commanding general of Fort Bragg and 300 other soldiers, Thursday marked the end of the war in Iraq. Soldiers from the Army's 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division arrived home to friends and family just in time for Christmas.
Those reunions are joyful any time of year, but they take on a special meaning during the holiday season. The soldiers' arrival was marked by banners, cameras, hugs and smiles when they landed at Pope Air Field.
"It's an awesome feeling, an aweseome opportunity," said Sgt. Earl Rice of the chance to hug his wife and son, Earl Jr. Rice was deployed for a year.
The day's news out of Iraq – of explosions in Baghdad and civilians killed – could not dampen the joy for these families.
Lt. General Frank Helmick, who oversaw the day-to-day job of getting the troop withdrawal done, said Americans should keep perspective about their role in the country.
The soldiers under his command are proud of what they have done, he said, but nothing feels as good as being home in time for Christmas.
The wife of Col. David Jernigan, a veteran of seven deployments, said their family would spend the holiday quietly, together, with lots of "snuggle time."