Utah soldiers home after a year in Iraq

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SALT LAKE CITY -- After spending nearly a year at war in Iraq, dozens of Utah soldiers returned home Thursday to embrace their families.

The last 55 U.S. Army reservists from the 96th Sustainment Brigade will eat dinner with their families and loved ones.

"Just complete excitement," said Maj. Patrick O'Leary, describing the emotions of the moment. "Glad to be home."

And glad to be back with his wife and kids.

The soldiers spent the last nine months deployed in Taji, Iraq, helping other troops with just about any job.

Troops and their families tried to contain the anticipation as the soldiers of the 96th Sustainment Brigade set their boots on Utah soil again. As they came off the plane, the troops fell into formation for brief accolades before breaking to reunite with their families

What is... the 96th Sustainment Brigade?
The 96th Sustainment Brigade serves as a military support unit managing the needs and flow of supplies like food, water, fuel, ammunition, medical supplies, vehicle parts, etc. to troops.

Last July, 321 Army reservists left Fort Douglas. Others in the unit started to come home in March, so these soldiers couldn't wait to hear the word, "dismissed."

Some soldiers who previously served in Iraq called this deployment less dangerous.

"Iraq is really chill right now, I guess," said Sgt. Terry Sachs.

"The country was a lot calmer that what I saw, than we were expecting, so that was a nice surprise," said Spc. Ron Hubbard.

But, the soldiers will tell you, no deployment is easy for family at home.

It's been a long 10 months, I guess. Very long. I'm just glad to have him home.

–Valynn Hubbard

"It's been a long 10 months, I guess. Very long," said wife Valynn Hubbard. "I'm just glad to have him home."

The sustainment brigade makes sure U.S. troops have the right things they need at the right time. Diverse assignments and duties that include a chaplain's assistant.

"We brought services to the soldiers so that they could worship the way that they wanted to," said Spc. Hubbard.

They also managed troop movements and equipment.

"I was in charge of a retrograde mission," said Sachs, "which means, I sent home a lot of equipment that we weren't using anymore. So, I basically ran the D.I. for the army."

They're proud of their work and the progress they see.

"The soldiers over there are integrating with the Iraqis and turning things over to the Iraqi government," said Maj. Patrick O'Leary. "So, the partnership is really working, and we see the draw down taking place. They're standing up on their own."

But now, they will focus on their families and friends.

While a couple of soldiers told us Iraq was calmer than on previous deployments, another told us that all depends on location.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com


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Jed Boal


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