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V Corps Release

Release Date: 2/5/2004

By Jayme Loppnow 130th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs Office

HANAU, Germany -- AAfter being away for nearly a year, Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of V Corps' 130th Engineer Brigade were finally able to put their arms around their loved ones, kiss their children and speak with their spouses face to face.

Excited family members waving American flags and homemade banners gathered at Pioneer Kaserne here Feb. 3, waiting to get a glimpse of the buses that would bring their Soldiers back home to them for good.

Jessica Chhun and her children Annabelle, 4, and Cross, 2, were nestled in the crowd, proudly displaying a welcome-home sign and straining to see any hint of headlights from the bus that was carrying her husband and the children's father, Spc. Phirom Chhun.

Jessica said she experienced many feelings during her last days of waiting for his return.

"I was feeling every emotion you could think of," she said. "I was mad because the days weren't going fast at all, and I was happy because I would think about holding him."

Keeping busy and supporting her children kept her busy throughout the time her husband was in Iraq.

"I got a job and my GED (high school diploma), which is everything he's been trying to get me to do when he was home," she said. "I got it all done when he was gone so I had something to get myself through the days to make the time pass faster."

As the time her husband was expected home drew near, Jessica said her anticipation grew.

"Just knowing that he is going to be here in a matter of minutes, and that he can see me and the kids; I can't even explain to you how excited I am," giggled Jessica.

"I love my husband and I can't wait to see him," she said. "And we made it!"

As the buses rolled up and began depositing their cargo of smiling Soldiers, families swarmed the parking lot looking for their loved ones.

Capt. Jon Stover, the brigade's personnel officer, said he found the landscape to be a big change after being away for nearly a year.

"I'm really excited to be back," he said. "It's not as cold as I (expected) and it's really green." Stover said he plans to unwind and relax by going skiing.

"Knowing that we don't have to go back feels really good," said Maj. Maurice Gissendanner, brigade executive officer. "I'm going to relax, spend time with family and take a load off for a while."

Gissendanner said the troops were very tolerant after being delayed several times in leaving Iraq.

"The Soldiers were patient, but were antsy initially, and then they realized that eventually they would get home."

Maggie Martin, the unit's Family Readiness Group leader, said the delays were just as hard on the families awaiting their loved ones, but they kept busy preparing for their arrival.

"There's been a lot of anticipation," she said. "We've been decorating, baking and getting the barracks ready for the single Soldiers."

Col. Gregg Martin, the 130th Engineer Brigade commander, addressed the families and thanked them for the sacrifices they made during the past year.

"Your job was much harder and more complicated than any of ours," said Martin. "We joined the Army to do exactly what we did this past year; fight a war, liberate a country and rebuild that country. We were living the dream of an engineer's paradise. You all had a much more complicated, difficult and challenging life and I want to personally say thank you to every spouse and family member. We couldn't have done what we did without every one of you."

The brigade was located at Logistical Support Area Anaconda for the majority of the deployment. Throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom, the headquarters supported up to 15,000 engineers at one time conducting missions ranging from bridging, humanitarian assistance, topographic missions, dive missions, firefighting, base construction, river patrols, mine detection, missile removal and many more.

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