More 82nd Airborne Paratoopers return

April 12, 2008 10:46:34 AM PDT
Friday morning about 100 paratroopers from Fort Bragg returned from Afghanistan.

Members of the 82nd Airborne, including the commanding general, arrived at Pope Air Force Base around 10 a.m.

After 15 months of leading America's Guard of Honor in combat, the leader of the 82nd Airborne Division and his Headquarters Company are back home.

"Well, it's always great to be back among family and friends and they did a tremendous job out there working very, very hard to make a difference for the Afghan people everyday," Major General David Rodriguez said.

You could see the emotion of the homecoming in little Ally Copenhaver's eyes just moments before getting a chance to hug her dad.

"Well, I'm really happy to see him because I haven't seen him in a long time," she said. "I just love him very much."

The 15-month deployment has been tough on all of the troops. They kept in touch the best they could.

When asked what Copenhaver missed most about her dad she said, "Uh, well, we have a tradition of going to Hardee's every Saturday morning, so I miss that a lot."

Now it's time for the soldiers to get reacquainted with their families. For some that means new additions.

The 82nd was formally replaced as the command unit on Thursday by the 101st Airborne Division, which will lead the roughly 32,000 U.S. troops in the country.

That's the most since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Among them are about 3,500 Marines from Camp Lejeune, who are in southern Afghanistan training police and fighting a rising insurgency.

All of the 82nd's major units are now at home except for the division's 1st brigade, which is fighting in southern Iraq.


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