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Staff Sgt. Dave Garver, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), his wife, Jill, and 15-month-old son, Payton, leave for home following a welcome home ceremony held for about 250 Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Dave Garver, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), his wife, Jill, and 15-month-old son, Payton, leave for home following a welcome home ceremony held for about 250 Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers Thursday. (Dave Melancon / U.S. Army)

Staff Sgt. Dave Garver, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), his wife, Jill, and 15-month-old son, Payton, leave for home following a welcome home ceremony held for about 250 Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Dave Garver, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), his wife, Jill, and 15-month-old son, Payton, leave for home following a welcome home ceremony held for about 250 Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers Thursday. (Dave Melancon / U.S. Army)

Family members greet returning Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers during a welcome home ceremony Thursday evening.

Family members greet returning Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers during a welcome home ceremony Thursday evening. (Dave Melancon / U.S. Army)

With the advance parties safely home, the bulk of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s six battalions are starting to return.

After a trying 15 months in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. Army Europe’s only airborne unit should be completely redeployed over the next several weeks.

Many of the returnees have spent two of the last three years supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 250 members of 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), returned to Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, on Thursday night, bringing the number of safely returned troops to 530, said Jon Fleshman, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza.

The 530 are about a quarter of the 1,900 due back in Italy by the beginning of August, Fleshman said, adding that another group of paratroops is due Friday.

Also returning Friday is a large group cavalrymen from 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany.


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