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V Corps Release

Release Date: 3/17/2004

By Sgt. Gregory Withrow 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office

WIESBADEN, Germany -- Open arms, hugs and kisses flourished as friends and family members gathered to welcome home the first small contingent of "Iron Soldiers" from V Corps' 1st Armored Division from their year-long deployment to Iraq.

Family members could barely contain their excitement as they waited nervously for the Soldiers forming the division's "torch party" to arrive at Wiesbaden Army Airfield March 12 March.

"I am so excited. I have been up since 5:30. He was trying to keep it a surprise," said Shauna Wiggins, wife of Staff Sgt. Dillon Wiggins in an excited tone. "But the (Family Readiness Group) called me and told me to be ready." Separation is nothing new to the Wiggins family, but this time was different.

"We've been together for seven years and he has been to Korea before, but the situation in this deployment is totally different. I am so glad he is home," Wiggins said. And she wasn't alone in her excitement.

"I am going to jump on my daddy," shyly explained 7-year-old Joseph Courchen, waiting for his father, Sgt. 1st Class William Courchen, to arrive. "We were fortunate that he got to come home during the deployment," added Joseph's mother, Jennifer Courchen. "We are so happy he will be home now."

For the gathered crowd the wait was soon to come to an end.

As the Soldiers' familiar faces appeared, family members and friends clapped and cheered, running to embrace those they had so long missed.

In a rush to claim their father, Sydney and Annie Schwaiger outraced their mother Barb, smothering Maj. Steve Schwaiger in hugs and kisses. Barb was not far behind.

"It's great to be home," said Schwaiger, grinning and continuing to hug his family.

All smiles, Shauna and Dillon Wiggins held each other close. Their wait had come to an end.

And little Joseph Courchen jumped on his father, hugging him tightly. Smiling as his father hoisted him for a hug with mother Jennifer, Joseph's face was lit brightly with excitement.

The arrival of the torch party signaled the beginning of 1st Armored Division's redeployment to home station. In the coming months the entire division will return to Germany and Fort Riley, Kan.

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