Fort Bragg run celebrates homecoming from Iraq
Posted February 2, 2012
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Approximately 14,000 soldiers ran through Fort Bragg Thursday morning to mark the homecoming of the 18th Airborne Corps from Iraq. The last soldiers in that unit returned in December.
Thursday's 4-mile run signified that a nearly 9-year run in Iraq is over.
“It feels food since they got back,” said Spc. Kevin Thomas. “It’s a comfort now that they’re all back on Fort Bragg.”
Fort Bragg's commander, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, led the runners, just as he led the 18th Airborne Corps last year in winding down the Iraq War.
“I think they’ll say in bold print at the very beginning, at the middle and at the end of the operation, the 18th Airborne Corps soldiers made a difference,” Helmick said.
Sgt. Maj. James Blake crossed the finish line and reflected on the conclusion of the war.
“Soldiers have a sense of stability to stay home with their families now a little longer, so it’s a great thing,” he said.
Master Sgt. Patrina Sono returned from Iraq in November.
“Mission accomplished. Everyone did a great job, and it just feels great to be running as a corps,” she said.
More than 750 service members from the 18th Airborne Corps Headquarters spent 10 months in Iraq last year as part of Operation New Dawn, playing a critical role in drawing the war to a close.