News: First 4-1AD soldiers returns from Iraq
Story by Sgt. Valerie Lopez
FORT BLISS, Texas - As soldiers walked through the airport, a small voice cried out, “Papa papa.”
Greeted by their families, approximately 20 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, returned home from Iraq Oct. 26.
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Commander, and Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Deputy Commander, welcomed the first of the 4th BCT Soldiers returning to their families.
“We’re so happy the soldiers are back from Iraq,” said Pittard. “This is just the beginning.”
This flight was the first of many flights to come.
After the announcement from President Barack Obama that all service members will leave Iraq by the end of 2011, Fort Bliss soldiers are coming home.
Jessica Ray, with her two daughters Kaylee, 3, and Kara, 2 weeks, welcomed her husband home from Iraq.
“I’m happy because he’s meeting our 2-week-old old daughter for the first time,” said Ray.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Ray, a Fort Bliss soldier for over three years, has been with Headquarters 2nd Bn., 29th FA Regt., since early 2008; this was his second deployment.
“I’m happy and I’m tired as all get-out,” said Ray. “Coming home is bitter sweet”. We’ve been there for so long, it doesn’t seem like it should be over, but I’m glad to come back home to be with my family and meet my newborn.”
Sarah Stokes, a friend of the Ray family and wife of Sgt. Chris Stokes, 2nd Bn., 29th FA Regt., still has time to wait before her soldier returns from Iraq.
“I’m really excited and glad it’s finally over,” said Stokes. “We’re ready for everyone to come home.”
Sgt. Stokes is expected back from Iraq before the holidays.
Well over 3,500 soldiers from Fort Bliss and El Paso are expected to return within the next several months.