GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The 172nd Infantry Brigade will hold a daylong welcome home celebration Dec. 5 at Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt for nearly 4,000 soldiers returning from a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, the brigade’s rear detachment commander, said Wednesday that the event will kick off with a formal parade and the uncasing of the unit’s colors. The U.S. Army Europe Band will play and a salute battery will fire a volley as officers review a brigade formation.

Then soldiers and their families can enjoy sports and family entertainment in the afternoon and a bonfire in the evening.

Members of the 172nd, known as the “Blackhawks,” who deployed to Iraq in November last year, began arriving home this month. More are expected back over the next month.

There will be unit-level competition in sports such as flag football and soccer as well as Scottish Highlands-style games such as caber tossing and axe- and rock-throwing, Stetson said.

The event will include several large festival tents, a stage, a disc jockey, fairground rides and bouncy castles for kids as well as an on-post Christmas bazaar, he said.

Members of the brigade will be able to take block leave from Dec. 6 through Jan. 16, Stetson said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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