HAVRE de GRACE, Md. (WJZ) — When President Barack Obama ordered most American troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, it shortened the stay for thousands of troops including, as Mike Schuh reports, 140 from an armory in Havre de Grace.
Warmth awaits at the end of a journey 6,000 miles long. One hundred and twenty Maryland National Guard soldiers, fresh from towing and fixing trucks and tanks in Iraq, were told to line up. The reunions could wait for a few minutes. But, after 10 months away, the civilians broke ranks. Their marching order come from the heart.
“I couldn’t wait, couldn’t wait until after formation,” said one soldier.
“Great! Glad to be home,” said a soldier.
“We didn’t care [that we were supposed to wait]. He wanted to see his son and I wanted to see him,” said Jamie Vencill, soldier’s wife.
This welcome was scheduled for February, but the president’s troop drawdown pushed up this date by three months.
The early homecoming wasn’t the only surprise here. At six and nine, the Cimino children were only told they were going to a parade. Then their dad walked off the bus.
Tears when they go off to war, tears when they return. And everyone in this unit will return a perfect moment with perfect timing.
“Oh, he looks great. He looks like Christmas,” said Sara Singleton.
“That one word speech, ‘Dismissed!’ is what they want to hear,” said Maryland Army Guard Commander General Peter Hinz.
There are still 10 members of this unit in Iraq and 10 more in New Jersey, but they should all be home within a month or so.
The latest figures show more than 4,000 soldiers died in Iraq. Some 13,000 U.S. troops remain there.