FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Several hundred Fort Riley soldiers are home with their families after a year-long deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. Two groups of troops made it back home Wednesday.
The "Lifeline" Battalion, who provided support to thousands of their fellow soldiers with the Big Red One’s 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, were reunited with their loved ones on Custer Hill.
According to officials with the 1st Infantry Division, the unit deployed in Nov. 2010 in support of Operation New Dawn. While deployed, "Dagger" Soldiers conducted numerous operational and organizational transitions as they realigned forces, closed several joint security stations, and transferred bases and property to either the Iraqi Security Forces or the U.S. Department of State. The unit also participated in over 15,000 key leader meetings with local Iraqi officials.
"It’s been a long 12 months but I managed to get back home to my family and I’m so happy to be here. Thank God.and thanks to my family for their support," said Specialist Jacques Cesaire as he wrapped his arms around his wife and son.
"I’m ecstatic. I’ve got my better half back to do everything with again. It’s hard by yourself sometimes. We’re a family again. We’re a unit," he wife added.
This was the Dagger Brigade’s fourth deployment to Iraq and they had their work cut out for them as the drawdown of troops continues.
"I told my soldiers the whole year, the goal is, we do our jobs so nobody else has to come back to Iraq and I think with the President’s announcement of no more troops after December 31st, a lot of them saw that what we went there to do, we accomplished. My soldiers did what was normally done by a unit ten times their size," said Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Dale Farrand.
There are 3,500 hundred soldiers in the 2nd Brigade. All of them are expected to return home by mid November. Wednesday's homecoming was the fourth of fifteen waves of soldiers that will be coming back from Iraq over the next few weeks.