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Troops Return to US Capital After 10 Months in Iraq


Staff Sergeant Christopher Miller and his fiancee Loren Taylor

Staff Sergeant Christopher Miller and his fiancee Loren Taylor

Hugs and kisses welcomed U.S. soldiers from Washington's National Guard when they returned home March 18 after serving in Iraq. It is the first time they have seen their families in almost a year. And for some, the stay will be short lived.

The moment they had dreamed about finally arrived.

And for many of these soldiers it was better than they had imagined.

"I thought I would get off the bus, get in a car and go home, but it's good to see all these people," said First Sergeant Terrance Smith.

First Sergeant Terrance Smith never expected such a big welcome.

His wife and 7-year-old daughter had been waiting since Smith left for Iraq 11 months ago.

"I thought I was going to be more cool, calm and collected, but as soon as I saw him I was like, I missed him.," said Sergeant Smith's wife. "ll the love I have just started flooding back I couldn't' stop touching him."

Smith left Iraq at a time when the country was holding its second parliamentary elections since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"From what I saw, I think we're ready to leave," he said "I think we're ready to give it to the Iraqis. My unit worked closely with the local nationals, and I think they are very competent and ready. They want to take control themselves."

But before the Iraqis can fully take control, they need a stable government. It may take months before a new government is formed because election results continue to trickle in. During the last parliamentary elections in 2005, it took five months to form a new government. Pentagon officials say the 96,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq, will continue to stay there during the transition. Once a peaceful transfer of power is complete, the U.S. is prepared to draw down its military forces in large numbers.

Many of these soldiers consider themselves lucky to be able to leave Iraq.

"Its' very exciting," said Smith. "I couldn't wait to get back home."

These men and women may be back from Iraq, but some of them will not be home for long. They'll be deployed again. Their destination: Afghanistan

Loren Taylor's fiancee, Staff Sergeant Christopher Miller, is one of the soldiers who expects to be heading for Afghanistan.

"You know I support him in whatever he does and he supports his country so I'm on board," said Loren Taylor.

Miller says he will first focus his attention on getting some rest.

"There's no words to describe it, I'm glad to be home," said Staff Sergeant Christopher Miller.

And Miller is home just in time for his wedding day, April 23.

The date to remember for many U.S. troops still in Iraq is still more than a year away - the end of 2011. That's when President Barack Obama says a full withdrawal of American forces will be complete.

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