It was homecoming time at Fort Carson Sunday, as the first wave of soldiers with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team arrived home from from Iraq. The soldiers spent nearly a year northeast of Baghdad helping Iraqi forces rebuild the country and keep the area secure. Sunday's homecoming of 150 soldiers is just the beginning. By Thanksgiving, all 3,600 soldiers are expected home. Staff Sergeant Wilfred Cunningham is glad he doesn't have to wait that long.
"This is the third tour I've done," said Cunningham. "I'm just thrilled and glad to be home, glad to be with my family."
Loved ones pack the Fort Carson gym for just about every homecoming and in every crowd, lots of kids. Fort Carson's Child and Youth Services program has come up with a way to make these homecomings even more special. While waiting for the soldiers to walk through the door, the kids create crafts and signs-- a chance to show their special soldier just how proud they are. Most of the kids make "shakers"-- a kind of patriotic pom-pom-- and colorful signs with homecoming messages. Child And Youth Services Coordinator Jan McConnell says they're there for the kids at every homecoming.
"We want the soldiers to know that number one, we're here to support and serve them," said McConnell. "Even as the soldiers come home, we're still going to be here taking care of their children."
At the craft corner, red white and blue crayons are the most popular along with camouflage stickers. Supervisors use the time to teach the kids about what their soldier moms and dads do. But once the homecoming music starts, the kids rush to join the celebration-- shakers in hand.