Last wave of National Guardsmen return

Sunday, October 19th 2008, 11:21 pm
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

BETHANY, Okla. -- The last group of soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade returned home from Iraq Sunday.

Family and friends cheered as about 225 soldiers walked into the Sawyer Center on the Southern Nazarene University campus in Bethany.

After a brief speech by Major General Henry M. Wyatt, the state's adjutant general, the unit was released into the arms of their loved ones.

"It's like Christmas and babies all rolled into one. My heart is like bursting. It was like seeing him for the first time again, it was inspiring really," wife Lori Gile said.

The soldiers were the last of 2,600 45th Infantry Brigade members who were deployed for a year.

"It's time to do something different now, been in the military 25 years now. It is time to do something different now," Staff Sgt. Michael Russell said.

Tears flowed as families kissed and hugged, thankful that every soldier from the division has come home safe and sound.

"You can't describe it. It feels good to have him in my arms. It's nice to hold him. I will probably hold him for quite a bit now that I am back," Capt. Josh Lawson said as he held his son.