STOCKTON (CBS13) – About 100 soldiers arrived home to their families Thursday after serving a year’s deployment in Iraq.
Members of the California National Guard’s 640th Aviation Support Battalion strode off two airplanes and into the arms of loved ones and well wishers, part of an estimated 500 soldiers nationwide who returned home on the same day, the largest troop homecoming since President Barack Obama announced that the military would be withdrawn from Iraq by year’s end.
The soldiers were part of a unit responsible for maintaining military helicopters.
One soldier, Chris Van Wart, said he hadn’t held his 14-month-old baby boy since he was a newborn and had only seen him through internet voice chats.
“It’s been son long since I’ve seen him. It feels great to be home,” Van Wart said.
Only about 20,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq.