Julie Almasoud received an unexpected Christmas present – her husband, Spc. Essa Almasoud.
“He left later than the rest of the guys, and I was not expecting him to come home until January,” she said. “The excitement, anxiety and wait are almost over,” Julie said.
At 5:30 Christmas Eve morning, the wait ended. Almasoud said she was relieved.
“I finally get to exhale,” she said.
The buses rolled down Fort Stewart’s Gulick Avenue and Almasoud, with almost 100 other 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers, marched across the post’s Cottrell Field.
With them was the brigade’s commanding officer, Col. Tom James.
His wife, Chelle Thomas, was all smiles.
“We’re very excited to have him home,” she said. “Of course, his focus was to get his soldiers out ahead of time, but this is a very special occasion to have everyone home for Christmas.”
Standing just a few feet away from their loved ones, Col. James and his soldiers stopped to listen to a few words from the 3rd Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo.
“You gave hope to millions of Iraqis,” Cucolo said. “There is no doubt that history has been made. But I can tell you that there is no place on earth that has more love, more pride, than these people right here at home.”
The soldiers were part of the last of the 4th Brigade’s troops to return home. All 4,500 soldiers were expected to be home before Christmas. Most of them arrived in time, but 71 4th BCT soldiers still remain in Iraq. They are scheduled to arrive at Fort Stewart on New Year’s Day.
The 4th Brigade deployed to the south of Baghdad 14 months ago. The soldiers were responsible for training Iraqi security forces and blocking weapons from entering the country’s capital.