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Pa. unit back from Iraq

September 04, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- A year ago, Jenna Jamison of Mercersburg, Pa., stood at the Waynesboro Armory, rendered speechless by the sobs welling in her throat.

Her boyfriend, Sgt. Roger "RJ" Yeager Jr., was going to war.

"I was bawling. I had to hold on to everyone. It was horrible," she said Friday. "Now, all I want to do is hug him and not let go."

Yeager and his Pennsylvania National Guard troop were welcomed home Friday by more than 150 people at the armory on North Grant Street, where they were greeted with banners, posters, flags and, of course, lots of hugs.

Chambersburg-based Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry of the 56th Stryker Brigade returned to Waynesboro for final dismissal, ending a deployment that included four months of training and eight months in Iraq. Members of Waynesboro-based Battery B, 108th Field Artillery are expected home Sunday.

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"I've got butterflies," Becky Rosenberry said as she waited to greet her son, Yeager. "I just can't wait to see him and hug him. It's great."

Troop C deployed to Taji, Iraq, in early 2009 after extensive training in Mississippi and Louisiana. For many members of the troop, it had been Christmas since they last were with family and friends, but coming home safely from war was better than any holiday.

"It is awesome to be home," Sgt. Matt Coble of Lewistown, Pa., said. "We had a great deployment with a great bunch of guys. I couldn't ask for more. But I'm glad to be home."

Capt. John Wenzel dismissed the soldiers Friday to what he said was well-deserved leave.

"It's time to take some time off and get back to a normal life," he said. "Dismissed."

A normal life for Sgt. 1st Class David "Big Daddy" Pearl of York, Pa., is spending time with his daughters Isabella, 5, Cassandra, 9, and Breanna, 7, said his wife, Christine Pearl.

"I miss him," Breanna said.

"I love him," Isabella said.

"I can't wait to play soccer with him again," Cassandra said.

Being able to hug his children put a smile on Pearl's face.

"There were things we had to get done first," he said. "But we did and now we are home, and that is all that matters."

"I wouldn't love to be anywhere else but here," Yeager said as Jamison wiped away a tear of joy. "I feel great."

Troop C will not report again for duty until mid-October, Wenzel said.

The Stryker Brigade was responsible for nine joint security station outposts and patrols in a 500-square-mile rural area 12 miles north of Baghdad.

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