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Forty home
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In terms of numbers, it was a pretty small redeployment. In emotional impact, it was huge.
A little more than 40 soldiers of the 38th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company returned home to Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield from Iraq Tuesday night.
Among about 100 family members waiting was an Athens, Ala., high school student, Marquis Embody. He and his grandparents had driven up Sunday to be ready to welcome his mother, Capt. Dana Bogard, the 38th EOD commander.
If it was a long 15 months to be separated, it was a long evening Tuesday as the welcome ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m. was postponed until 10:10 p.m.
Embody said that unlike younger children of soldiers, he understood the reason for his mother's absences. Bogard was also deployed to Iraq in 2004.
Embody said he had emailed his mother frequently, "and she calls whenever she can, but it's not like having her home."
He and his grandparents plan to spend family time together and work on Bogard's Hinesville house.
Other plans for the reunited family: "Whatever Mom wants to do."
Bogard returned with every soldier her unit left with in November 2006.
During its deployment the unit conducted more than 2,000 missions, including analyzing blast sites, air assault missions, and detonating weapons caches and unexploded improvised explosive devices.
Lt. Col. Nathaniel Glover, deputy commander for the 52nd Explosive Ordnance Group -- headquartered at Fort Gillem in Forest Park and the 38th EOD's higher headquarters -- praised the soldiers for their contributions supporting the war on terrorism and ensuring the peace of both the Iraqi and American people.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic to see this formation standing in front of me today," Glover said, standing in front of the 40-soldier formation at attention in Newman Fitness Center.  "You have the gratitude of a grateful nation."
Glover thanked the relatives for their support of their soldiers. He also recognized the soldiers' eagerness to reunite with friends and family.
"I know that I'm the only thing that stands between them and reuniting with their loved ones," he said.
The welcome home ceremony was inside Newman because of rain.
Traditionally, units are welcomed home at Cottrell Field.  The brief ceremony includes singing the national anthem and Army song and welcome remarks from a commanding officer before soldiers are released to greet their families.
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