Last of 82nd Airborne troops return from Afghanistan

Posted September 28, 2012 5:57 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2012 7:10 p.m. EDT

— The last troops in Afghanistan from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division returned home Friday after a three-month deployment.

The homecoming is part of the drawdown of U.S. troops in the area over the past couple of years.

Fort Bragg troops played an integral role in military operations in that country.

About 180 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Panthers, were met by family and friends at Pope Field at Fort Bragg.

"It feels great," said Capt. Augie Gonzaelez, who returned home to a month-old daughter named Noel.

He wasn't alone.

Several other troops also got to hold their newborns or little ones for the first time.

This homecoming follows a round of other homecomings that have happened over the last month, including more than 2,000 members of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

More than 2,100 troops have been killed while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. More than 1,600 were killed in action.

More than 17,600 troops were wounded.