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1st Armored Division welcomed back to Germany

By Sgt. Gregory Withrow

WIESBADEN, Germany (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2004) -- After a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2,500 Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division rallied for a day-long welcome home ceremony Oct. 7.

The Soldiers, representing every unit of the 1AD in Germany, marched across Wiesbaden Army Airfield in time to the pounding drums of the division band in celebration of their return to home station.

"Thank you for your dedicated service to our country," said Daniel R. Coats, U.S. ambassador to Germany. "You responded to the call of duty at the most difficult time. On behalf of the U.S. embassy and the American citizens living in Germany, welcome home."

However, the joy of those who had returned safely was tempered with the remembrance of the division Soldiers who gave their lives during OIF.

"You have helped make the world a safer place. We can never thank you enough for what you did. We rejoice in this moment, but also remember your fellow Soldiers who fell," Coats said.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz echoed the ambassador's remarks and praised the division's steadfast resolve.

"You fought bravely in battle. Your courage and skill were still needed, and you answered the call," said Wolfowitz. "Over and over again, the 1st Armored Division showed everyone what right looks like. The U.S. citizens and people of the new, free Iraq, thank you."

Wolfowitz thanked those who had sacrificed in order to provide the force behind Iraq's newfound freedom.

"To the families, we can't thank you enough. To the wounded Soldiers, no words are adequate to express our gratitude," said Wolfowitz.

In a more solemn ceremony earlier in the day on Minue Parade Field, a monument was dedicated to division Soldiers who gave their lives during OIF.

During his remarks at that ceremony, Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the division commander, said while it was important to bring the division's troops from units across Germany to welcome them home from a difficult and dangerous mission, the real significance for their gathering was found in the tribute to their fallen comrades.

The day's events, which attracted a crowd of more than 4,000, also included displays of division equipment; food and refreshments; amusement rides; a concert by country music band Sawyer Brown, and a fireworks display.

(Editor's note: Sgt. Gregory Withrow serves with the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office. Spc. Kristopher Joseph serves with V Corps Public Affairs Office. For more information and photographs, see the V Corps site.)


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