Vice President Joe Biden welcomed home from Iraq 900 members of the 18th Airborne Corps on Wednesday, telling soldiers that in humbly doing their jobs they had done more for the future of democracy in Iraq than they realize.
"Because of all the work you've done, I am absolutely confident that the Iraqis are in a much better position to take responsibility for their own security," Biden told the soldiers. "You did more than I suspect you even know.
"You set a country on a course that may change the history of that region for a generation to come."
The vice president spoke at a highly choreographed welcome–home ceremony on the Fort Bragg's main parade field. About 1,700 spectators, including returning soldiers, their families and invited guests attended, along with 1,200 uniformed soldiers from other elements of the Corps.
The 900 soldiers returned over the past couple of weeks from a 15–month tour, the longest in 18th Airborne history. The last arrived home Sunday.
Some welcome–home ceremonies consist of only a small gathering at the flag pole to raise a unit's colors, signifying its official return. This one was much grander, with an Army band, a cannon salute, a review of troops by the vice president and a presentation of colors that had dozens of flags whipping in the wind of a chilly April morning.
Biden, whose son Beau is a captain in the Delaware National Guard serving in Iraq, said it meant a great deal to him to be able to thank the troops – and their families – in person for the sacrifices they make. His wife, Jill, also attended and met some family members who had come for the event.
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