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Local Pa. Guard members due back from Iraq this weekend

September 03, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Pennsylvania National Guard members based in Franklin County are expected to return home this weekend after eight months in Iraq.

A spokesman for the Chambersburg-based 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry, said soldiers from that unit would be leaving Fort Dix, N.J., at 9 a.m. Friday and are expected to arrive at the armory in Waynesboro, Pa., at about 12:30 p.m.

Capt. Cory Angell, a public information officer for the Stryker Brigade, said schedules are subject to change.

Members of Waynesboro-based Battery B, 108th Field Artillery, are expected home Sunday.

The Guard members are at Fort Dix for paperwork, medical checks and equipment relinquishing.

Approximately 1,000 of 4,000 guardsmen from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team have returned from the Middle East in recent weeks, Angell said.

"It seems like we're getting soldiers out really well," he said, saying the personnel at Fort Dix have extensive experience in end-of-deployment procedures.

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Angell said he and his fellow guardsmen are excited to be back in the United States.

"The smell of fresh-cut grass, that's home," he said.

Returning soldiers are taking 13- to 14-hour flights from Kuwait. They turn in weapons upon landing stateside, then listen to a welcome message and greet relatives who traveled to Fort Dix.

The Stryker Brigade trained in Mississippi and Louisiana before deploying to Taji, Iraq. The brigade was responsible for nine joint security station outposts and patrols in a 500-square-mile rural area 12 miles north of Baghdad.

The soldiers specialize in operations involving an armored combat vehicle that can hold more infantrymen than a Humvee.

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