Big Day of Homecomings

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It was a big day of reunions at Fort Carson on Wednesday. In several waves, more than 600 servicemen and women returned from duty overseas as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The first airplane arrived very early in the morning---loaded with 111 Third Brigade Combat troops. Another 143 soldiers from the 3BCT were welcomed back at a midmorning ceremony.

Among them---their commander, Colonel Frederick Rudeshiem. He said the U.S. is making progress in Iraq. He said there is more merchandise in the stores, more people have cars and some cities have held elections for city councils. And he said his troops were well prepared for their mission. "We came in very prepared. Our folks were extremely disciplined and I think that was the key to our success."

Then, in the afternoon, another big homecoming as 342 members of the Third Armored
Cavalry Regiment were welcomed at a ceremony at the mountain post.

Fort Carson officials say that brings to about 5,300 the number of soldiers who have returned from Iraq in recent weeks. They say Fort Carson's entire deployment of almost 12,000 should be home by summer as new troops are being sent to Iraq to replace them.

Another 300 troops were expected to return overnight.