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Sgt. Joshua Guilford is reunited with his wife, Sandra, as he returns from a 12-month deployment to Iraq with other members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The unit returned in the early morning on Veterans Day.

Sgt. Joshua Guilford is reunited with his wife, Sandra, as he returns from a 12-month deployment to Iraq with other members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The unit returned in the early morning on Veterans Day. (Dan Blottenberger / S&S)

Sgt. Joshua Guilford is reunited with his wife, Sandra, as he returns from a 12-month deployment to Iraq with other members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The unit returned in the early morning on Veterans Day.

Sgt. Joshua Guilford is reunited with his wife, Sandra, as he returns from a 12-month deployment to Iraq with other members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The unit returned in the early morning on Veterans Day. (Dan Blottenberger / S&S)

Spc. Carl Ellebb kisses his 5-month old daughter, Angel.

Spc. Carl Ellebb kisses his 5-month old daughter, Angel. (Dan Blottenberger / S&S)

A wall decoration welcoming home the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment Black Scarve soldiers hangs in the base gym on Conn Barracks.

A wall decoration welcoming home the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment Black Scarve soldiers hangs in the base gym on Conn Barracks. (Dan Blottenberger / S&S)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — More than 200 members of the 172nd Infantry Brigade returned to Schweinfurt and Grafenwöhr in the wee hours of the morning on Veterans Day after a 12-month deployment to Iraq, but neither the troops nor the family members and friends awaiting them at Conn Barracks seemed to mind the time.

Ashley Skinner sat in the gym with her three small children, who seemed to have forgotten the time as they waited for the return of their father, Spc. Eric Skinner.

“I’m ready for the help,” she said as she watched her 3-year-old twin daughters, Lilly and Chloe, run by with balloons.

The soldiers also looked eager to be released after going through a couple of reintegration stations in their unit areas an hour before the welcome home ceremony.

“I’m one step closer to holding my baby girl for the first time,” said Sgt. Colin Weingart, whose daughter, Rylie, was born while he was deployed.

“I’ve stayed up all night. I’m just running on adrenaline,” added Sgt. Tyler Zelko.

Zelko had no family to meet him, as was the case with several single soldiers, but some wives whose husbands had returned earlier and fellow brigade soldiers showed up to welcome them back.

“There are a lot of soldiers that are coming home that don’t have any one here for them and that is [a lousy] feeling,” Spc. Bethani Brown said while holding a sign that offered free hugs for soldiers.

The brigade’s troops have been returning in groups of several hundred soldiers for about three weeks, and brigade officials expect the entire brigade of more than 4,500 soldiers to be back in Germany in the next week or two.

The brigade returns without eight of its members, who died in various sectors of Iraq, where they were providing support operations for Iraqi security forces, according to Capt. Joshua Buchanan, the rear detachment commander for the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment of the 172nd Infantry Brigade.


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