Families welcome 200 returning soldiers in Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Almost a year after they left, 200 members of the 172nd Infantry Brigade arrived Monday in Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt, paving the way for the return of the rest of their comrades.
The brigade, including more than 3,000 personnel, deployed to Iraq late last year and expanded its operations to secure a wide swath that includes Najaf, Diwaniyah, Babil, Karbala and Wasit provinces south of Baghdad.
At 2 a.m. Monday wives, children, parents and girlfriends waved flags, held signs and snapped photographs as soldiers arrived at the Grafenwöhr Physical Fitness Center.
Joint Multinational Training Command chief Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar welcomed the soldiers home but told them their mission won’t be over “until we get the rest of your brothers and sisters back safe and reintegrated with your families and this great community.”
Moments later the soldiers were dismissed and family members rushed to embrace them.
Staff Sgt. Samuel Schexnayder, 26, of Baton Rouge, La., found himself in the arms of his wife, Mary, and son, Sam Jr., who was born two weeks before he deployed. The family said they were just looking forward to spending time together.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Nunn got hugs from his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Jacelyn, 5. Nunn said it was great to see his family but that he’d be back to work after a week of reintegration.
“We don’t get a vacation for two months because we have to help the rest of the unit come back,” he said.
Nunn, who deployed with the brigade for 15 months from 2006 to 2008, said he’s been away from home for much of his daughter’s childhood and he’s looking forward to her sixth birthday.
Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, commander of the 172nd Rear Detachment, said the rest of the brigade will return over the next six to seven weeks.