Soldiers return home after 431 days overseas

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SALT LAKE CITY -- An emotional crowd stood in high spirits at Salt Lake International Airport Friday night. A group of Utah soldiers returned home to their families after 431 days in Iraq.

A sea of red, white and blue filled the terminal at Salt Lake International Airport, as anxious family members waited to see their loved ones. Soldiers from the 328th Combat Support Hospital certainly earned a hero's welcome home.

The unit just finished a tour of more than a year near Baghdad. Sgt. Claris Staton said, "We've been providing medical care to the detainees at Camp Crawford and Camp Taji for the last year."

The smiling faces revealed no insight into the difficult life they just left behind. Spc. Jonathan Marsh said, "We were working with the enemy on a day to day basis."

Still, spirits soared as soldiers walked out of the terminal and into the waiting arms of their loved ones.

Jennifer Johnson's husband was part of the returning group. "It's nice to have him home! There's nothing like it in the world," she told KSL.

The soldiers themselves were overwhelmed by the welcome. "This is wonderful. It's great to know we're supported," said Marsh.

The soldiers say they're ready to get back to the normal day-to-day experiences of life here at home. "So excited to be home together again. It's his birthday tomorrow. We made it home for the third birthday. That's important," said Staton.

Family members and friends say they are just happy to have their heroes home safe and sound.



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Keith McCord


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