250 soldiers back in Fairbanks from Iraq

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Chief Warrant Officer Tim Worthy was all smiles as he stood next to his wife and three children for the first time in a year.

After a year in northern Iraq with the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry, and a two-day delay getting back to Alaska, Worthy was understandably happy to be back home.

"It's hard to describe. It's just incredible to be back," he said. "I plan to spend a lot of time with my family."

Worthy was one of about 250 soldiers from Task Force Saber welcomed back Friday to Fort Wainwright after a successful mission performing aerial reconnaissance and support to U.S. forces in northern Iraq.

"It's super to be back," said the Task Force Saber commander, Lt. Col. Nick Snelson. "It's so nice to see a lot of green again."

Snelson said the 6-17 provided "invaluable service" to operations in Iraq on a daily basis.

Chief Warrant Officer Cameron Nowell summed up the plans of many soldiers after he greeted his wife, Katie.

"Eat, sleep and repeat," he said.

A party of fewer than 50 soldiers is yet to return to Fort Wainwright, but so far this month about 600 troops from the 6-17th have come home from their yearlong deployment.

With an early morning arrival time, family members started filling a Fort Wainwright hangar before 7 a.m. to wait for their loved ones to be bused in from Eielson Air Force Base.

The early arrival didn't seem to bother many, as they waved flags and signs welcoming back husbands and fathers.

"It's been a long year, but it went by quicker than I ever thought," MJ Rogers said as she held 4-month-old Olivia Joy.

Spc. Kyle Rogers was flown in for about two weeks when his daughter was born, but hadn't seen her since.

"She's changed a lot, but he's seen her on Web cam," Rogers said. "I'm just looking forward to getting acclimated and having a family together."

Eleven-year-old Alex Rick wore a child-size Army uniform as he and his brother, Michael, 15, waited for their father, Staff Sgt. Frank Rick.

"Since he left we've been having a hard time getting used to it," Michael said "But soon we'll be happier."

"Same thing," agreed Alex, who said he hopes to follow in his dad's footsteps in the Army.

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