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Spc. Damien Demasio reunites with his wife, Amber, and children Jaren, 6 months, and Christian, 3, on Wednesday at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany. Nine soldiers from Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, 1st Infantry Division returned to Bamberg from Iraq to open up the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery dining facility in preparation for the division’s return in February.
Spc. Damien Demasio reunites with his wife, Amber, and children Jaren, 6 months, and Christian, 3, on Wednesday at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany. Nine soldiers from Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, 1st Infantry Division returned to Bamberg from Iraq to open up the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery dining facility in preparation for the division’s return in February. (Simon Hupfer / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

BAMBERG, Germany — Warner Barracks community members proved that size doesn’t matter when it comes to welcoming their heroes home.

About 25 members of the Bamberg military community, including one family, were on hand Wednesday to greet nine soldiers from Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, 1st Infantry Division as they returned from Iraq.

The soldiers were among the first group of 1st ID support personnel returning to division communities to help prepare for the division’s return in February, according to Spc. Rebecca Sharpton, 1st ID spokeswoman.

The soldiers marched into the Bamberg chapel’s family life center amid cheers and applause from those gathered to greet them.

“It was nice that, even with this small group, we come home and have the community showing its support,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Gruver. “It’s very impressive.”

Spc. Damien Demasio’s family was waiting to greet him.

“The separation has been difficult,” Demasio said, clutching his wife, Amber, and children Christian, 3, and Jaren, 6 months. “It’s been hard on the kids, too, but it helped knowing that my wife had a lot of support back here.”

Most of the soldiers who returned Wednesday were single; the families of the married soldiers, other than Demasio, were in the States, according to Maj. Erich Campbell, rear detachment commander for Division Artillery.

The group returned about five days earlier than expected; Campbell learned Tuesday that the soldiers would be back Wednesday.

“We got their rooms ready for them,” Campbell said. “They are stocked with some quick foods and drinks. We got linen and made up their beds so they can just flop out [after the welcome ceremony].”

The nine cooks, along with four cooks from 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery who returned Tuesday night, will open up the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery dining facility to have it ready for 1st Infantry Division soldiers slated to return to Bamberg from Iraq in February.

Gruver said it was nice to be home but difficult to leave with others from his unit still in Iraq; the cooks only recently learned that they would be returning early.

“It’s hard, because there’s still a mission in Iraq,” he said. “It was hard to split with the soldiers who are still there.”

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