Soldiers Return Home to Fort Gordon

By: Erich Spivey
By: Erich Spivey

November 7, 2005
It’s a day nearly 365 days in the making. 300 members of Fort Gordon’s 297th Military Intelligence Battalion returned home Saturday. News 12 has more from the emotional homecoming.

A half-hour before the troops march home, dozens stand outside for a brief glimpse. Many breaking out their Sunday best a day early. Katy Brock made a sign, ‘I love Sgt. Mom.”

“We’re just so excited to be here. We’re so excited they’re actually here and we’re going to see them in a few minutes,” said Kitty Brock, military mom.

Inside, two large garage doors open and 300 members of Fort Gordon’s 297th Military Intelligence Battalion march in.

“Your soldiers served in some of the most notoriously dangerous areas, including Baghdad, Mosul and Ramadi,” said Napoleon Stewart, Lt. Col., 297th Battalion.

Officials keep the ceremony brief, knowing everyone can’t wait for this, a free-for-all of soldiers hugging their loved ones for the first time in nearly a year.

It takes Gloria Varnado several minutes to track down her son in the mix of emotions.

“It feels great, it feels great. God has answered my prayers. I’m so happy, I’m so happy,” Varnado said.

Nearby, William’s on top of the world with his dad, Robert Rupe.

“Every time you go away, it doesn’t get any easier. Every time you wanna be back,” Rupe said.

“I’ve been waiting for this and the last couple of weeks have gone by so slow. But this morning flew by. It’s a beautiful day,” Rupe’s wife said.

Tears and hugs all around on this beautiful day at Fort Gordon.

The homecoming included a moment of silence for one member of the unit. Sgt. Roberto Arizola Jr. was killed on June 8th when his convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device.

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