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Most recent returnees readying HQ
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With the First Brigade Combat Team officially back home from Iraq early last week, another contingent returned to Fort Stewart Wednesday, a small group of soldiers from the division's Special Troops Battalion.
The soldiers, just over 20 according to Fort Stewart Public Affairs Office, are an advance party whose mission will be preparing the new 3rd ID headquarters building for occupancy.
More than 3,310 soldiers of the 1st BCT have redeployed over recent weeks. The final group of about 70 being bused from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina on Monday.
Lt. Col. P. Brian Gale II, 3rd ID rear detachment commander, welcomed the Marne soldiers home at Wednesday's ceremony, thanking them for their 14 months of service with Task Force Marne south of Baghdad.
"You and your fellow Marne soldiers secured an area the size of West Virginia, suppressing the violence in that region and denying extremists safe haven," Gale said.  "Your names, and the names of the operations you conducted while deployed - Husky, Torch, Slam, Rugged, Pile Driver - are written large in the history of Iraq.  Dog-face soldiers, you have every right to be proud of what you have done."
Task Force Marne is under the command of Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, 3rd Infantry Division commander. The division headquarters staff is expected to return in May.
Depending on the availability of flights and other variables, the division's 3rd BCT will be returning to Fort Benning at the end of this month and during May.
The 2nd BCT will be redeploying in August, followed by the Combat Aviation Battalion from Hunter Army Airfield and the Sustainment Brigade in September/October.
The return of the 4th "Vanguard" Brigade Combat Team is set for January 2009.
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