Local News

Fort Bragg Troops Return From Afghanistan

Posted May 9, 2003

— More than 100 Fort Bragg soldiers are finally back home from Afghanistan. Some are seeing their families for the first time in more than a year.

As soldiers marched toward their families, the excitement was almost too much to bear. After being gone for months, Jason Patitucci was brought to tears when he saw his wife and son.

"It's the best thing in the world. It really is," he said.

While much of the focus has been on Iraq lately, leaders say soldiers involved in Operation Enduring Freedom are staying focused. They point out Afghanistan is still a very hostile place.

"It's extremely dangerous," said Col. Larry Draper. "We are trying to rebuild the country and what makes it still so dangerous is you have groups who don't want change."

After being in Afghanistan six months, Draper is home just three weeks before he heads back to Afghanistan for another six months. Even with Friday's homecoming, about 8,000 Fort Bragg soldiers are still in Afghanistan.

Over the weekend, 500 more soldiers from North Carolina will return from both Afghanistan and Iraq.


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