More than 200 soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, most members of the unit's advance party, were greeted by hundreds of family members and friends when they landed at Lawson Army Airfield earlier this evening. Representatives from each of the brigade's six battalions were among those aboard the World Air chartered flight that originated in Kuwait with a stopover in Germany.
"He's going to want a hot bath and a dinner of mom's gumbo," said 19-year-old Toni Williams, who was waiting at Freedom Hall, the airport's spacious terminal, for her dad, 1st Sgt. Tony Williams of Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
The soldiers arrived on schedule, but they had to clear customs as soon as they debarked, then begin an in-processing program that was scheduled to last almost two hours.
So it was late in the evening before families and soldiers could be reunited.
"That's OK," said Toni Williams, who was holding her 5-month-old son Tony. "We've waited 15 months and another hour or so won't hurt."
The next contingent of 3rd Brigade soldiers is due to arrive at Lawson Field Wednesday night. The entire brigade, commanded by Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., should be home by month's end.
All of those arriving tonight will be given 48-hour passes but they must return to post Monday to begin reintegration training.