Skip to comments.1st Cavalry Home For Holidays
Posted on 12/21/2007 12:41:14 PM PST by MaestroLC
FORT HOOD -- The last 12 hours of 15 months is a very long time.
"I have not slept," said Dianne Hunt, whose eyes welled up at the slightest provocation and who was prone to jumping up and down in anticipation.
"My heart is just a-goin'!"
All over the parade field in front of the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters, wives and moms, girlfriends and grade-schoolers proved that sometimes the best Christmas gifts don't require a minute's shopping.
Sometimes the Army delivers the gifts home, just in time.
"The kids are so excited," said Sarah Rogers, who confessed to her own serious case of butterflies waiting for her husband, Sgt. Christopher Rogers. "This is all I wanted for Christmas -- to enjoy him."
Every day for the last few weeks, big commercial airliners are stopping at Fort Hood's airfield, completing the last leg of a Baghdad-Kuwait-Germany-Maine-Texas marathon flight.
Hundreds of soldiers disgorge weighted down by packs and end up in the arms of screaming families, many of whom are shedding as many tears as they did 15 months ago when their troopers left home.
Except this time, the tears come from relief.
"This is our third party," said Hunt, who has three children who are West Point graduates and serving as officers in the U.S. military. Her oldest, D'Hania, came home Thursday.
"But this one is special because we'll have them all home for Christmas, and that hasn't happened in a long time."
Most troops in the 1st Cavalry deployed to Iraq -- for the second time -- in October 2006. They were among the Army units whose 12-month tour was extended to 15 because of the "surge" in forces that President Bush ordered this year.
Portions of the division will not return to Texas until the end of January, but its top commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil Jr. led Thursday morning's flight.
The 4th Infantry Division, also based at Fort Hood, took control of the Baghdad area this week.
Each soldier awaited a different homecoming.
Sgt. Eric Juarez's father had an ice chest full of meat and groceries to cook the next few days. His son, who grew up outside Houston, had already ordered tamales, menudo and mole sauce, apparently not specialties of Army dining facilities.
"I didn't want him to go again," Santiago Lopez said of his son's second deployment. "But if he decides to go, I'm behind him 100 percent. He likes the Army. I'm proud of him."
Spc. Jordan Downey, a native of Valders, Wis., was greeted by 22 family members, all wearing red T-shirts riffing off the MasterCard "priceless" commercial.
They rode the Amtrak to Texas to greet him personally. They even brought him part of a hog they slaughtered back home.
"Hugging our American soldier on U.S. soil ... Priceless" their T-shirts read.
Christopher Rogers, a native of Washington, Ill., returns to a family one member larger than when he left. His son, Aidan, was born after he deployed.
His wife and children marked days on the calendar, finally arriving at a date they could be certain of.
Alysamarie, his 4-year-old daughter, was eager to show him her gift, more eager to show him how she could climb a tree now.
She had one more idea too.
"I'm going to hug Daddy all day."
Thank you to all our magnificent troops and their families. We will never be able to adequately express our gratitude.