|Updated: 12/19/2011 11:45 am
||Published: 12/18/2011 7:07 pm
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - After almost nine years of war, the last remaining American combat troops are leaving Iraq. That means a Christmas homecoming for members of the Arkansas National Guard.
14 soldiers from the 77th Theater Aviation Brigade arrived home to their families Sunday afternoon. Originally slated for a year long deployment in Iraq, the soldiers came back 2 months ahead of schedule due to the recent draw down of troops overseas.
Cpt. Bill Berry's four boys couldn't stand still while waiting for their dad to come home.
Waving their American flags and holding on to homemade welcome home banners, Jenni Lee Berry says the boys think their daddy coming home early is the best Christmas present ever. "We're excited to fix Daddy something better than an MRE when he gets home, and we've got the Christmas tree up which will be exciting."
The oldest, Noah Berry, is 5-years-old, and knows exactly what his dad will want to eat for supper. "His favorite thing to eat; we're going to make him steak!"
The Berry's say they and the other National Guard families feel lucky, and are thankful the deployment was cut short.
The soldiers were welcomed home with warm cheers, hugs, and kisses by families overjoyed to have their heroes back on U.S soil.
Cpt. Bill Berry returns to see how big his boys have grown. "The youngest was just two weeks old when we started training, so I get to get to know him, and all of these monkeys have gotten so big."
When asked what special plans the Berry's have for Christmas, they say nothing big just yet. Cpt. Berry says he's just looking forward to getting home to rest and relax.
While overseas, the soldiers provided corps-level command and control for all aviation assets in Iraq. The unit's main body of 80 soldiers returned home just before Thanksgiving. The last wave of returning soldiers comes home this Wednesday. That group of 20 soldiers is completing de-mobilization processing at Fort Hood in Texas, so at least their families know their loved ones are state side and out of harms way.