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Last group of 3rd Brigade soldiers return to Fort Benning from Iraq

Whatever Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Dickerson is in the mood to eat he’s going to get it and fast.

“I’ve cooked everything he might want,” said his mother Virginia Dickerson of Columbus. “I mean everything.”

The soldier was one of about 300 members of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, who arrived from Iraq to Fort Benning’s Lawson Army Airfield Tuesday evening.

The Omni Air International airplane touched down at 6:25 p.m. and nine minutes later, the soldiers began to make their way toward Freedom Hall where cheering friends and family awaited them.

The soldiers have been deployed for a year. The troops began to return in August and more than 4,000 are now back on post. This was the last group to arrive.

“It’s tough seeing all those other troop flights arriving, but Christopher had told me that because of his job that he’d be bringing up the rear,” said Dickerson, a retired Fort Benning worker.

Her son has been in the Army for about 10 years. This was his fourth deployment.

“It never gets easier for me,” Dickerson said. “I’m just really excited now. It’s just a blessing from the Lord that he and the others have made it back safely. I know he’s eager to see me and his family.”

Capt. Renee Dockery’s family was eager to see her march into the hall. Her husband, Master Sgt. Johnny Dockery, and their three teen children, all wore T-shirts with her picture on it and the words “Renee, We’re So Proud of You.” He held a large bouquet of roses in his hand.

“This is wonderful,” Johnny Dockery said. “We’re eager to see her and have the family back together.”

This was her first deployment to Iraq. It hasn’t been long since he returned from a deployment to Kuwait.

“It’s tough but we both knew what we were getting into when we joined the military 17 years ago,” he said. “It’s our job. It’s what we signed up for.”

He said his children have been helping him with all the family chores at their Fort Mitchell, Ala., home.

“That has made it a lot easier,” he said.

He said it has been a little “frustrating” seeing all the other groups return over the past couple of months.

“Yeah, I would have loved to see her get off that very first plane,” he said. “It was great tonight having her get off of this one. It’s time for the whole family to go home and get reacquainted.”

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