Subscribe
Bethany Stillman and her children, Iliania, 7, and Avery, 3, wait Friday for Spc. Joseph Stillman before an early morning return ceremony for the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Bethany Stillman and her children, Iliania, 7, and Avery, 3, wait Friday for Spc. Joseph Stillman before an early morning return ceremony for the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Bethany Stillman and her children, Iliania, 7, and Avery, 3, wait Friday for Spc. Joseph Stillman before an early morning return ceremony for the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Bethany Stillman and her children, Iliania, 7, and Avery, 3, wait Friday for Spc. Joseph Stillman before an early morning return ceremony for the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Tristan McLaughlin, 10, catches some shuteye as he awaits his father, Sgt. 1st Class Heath McLaughlin, during an early morning return ceremony Friday  for soldiers with the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Tristan McLaughlin, 10, catches some shuteye as he awaits his father, Sgt. 1st Class Heath McLaughlin, during an early morning return ceremony Friday for soldiers with the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Family members await loved ones during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany.  Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Family members await loved ones during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers with the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade stand in formation during a prayer at a return ceremony for several hundred members of the brigade, held Friday in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Soldiers with the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade stand in formation during a prayer at a return ceremony for several hundred members of the brigade, held Friday in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Spc. George Stonecipher takes a good look at his daughter, Marlee, 3, during a return ceremony Friday  for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Spc. George Stonecipher takes a good look at his daughter, Marlee, 3, during a return ceremony Friday for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Liz Foster welcomes her husband, Spc. Jeff Foster, during a return ceremony Friday for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Liz Foster welcomes her husband, Spc. Jeff Foster, during a return ceremony Friday for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Sgt. Joon Park meets his 7-month-old son, Philip, during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade gradually ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Joon Park meets his 7-month-old son, Philip, during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade gradually ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Keeli Gull, 20 months, is on her feet and running during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, including her father, Staff Sgt. Cody Gull, in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Keeli Gull, 20 months, is on her feet and running during a Friday return ceremony for members of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, including her father, Staff Sgt. Cody Gull, in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Several hundred soldiers returned to both Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, as the brigade ends a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Several hundred soldiers with the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade returned from Afghanistan on Friday, the first of multiple groups expected as the unit ends its 12-month deployment.

Homecoming ceremonies at both Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt greeted the nearly 300 returning soldiers, according to officials at the Grafenwöhr ceremony. Anxious family members, sleepy children and garrison leaders gathered for the 4 a.m. return in the Grafenwöhr gymnasium.

Keeli Gull, 20 months, squirmed in her mother’s arms as the pair awaited their soldier, Staff Sgt. Cody Gull, 28.

“I think she’s excited for something, but she doesn’t know what,” her mother, Hannah Gull, 25, said.

The 172nd deployed last summer to eastern Afghanistan for a 12-month tour. Plans call for the unit to be inactivated in 2013.

beardsleys@estripes.osd.mil


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up