Soldiers return home from Iraq

March 19, 2008 9:11:39 AM PDT
It's a day dozens of local families have been waiting for. 80 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are home tonight from Iraq.It was a moment they anticipated for months when their loved ones returned from the warzone in Iraq.

"I'm just happy to be home. Happy to be here with my family," returning solider Stephanie Armstrong said.

They are the 80 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 128th Chemical Company. They spent seven months providing security 50 miles north of Baghdad in Balad before returning to National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia.

"It feels awesome, it feels really cool. We were proud to be over there and be able to serve our country, but it feels just as good to come home," returning soldier Charissa Taylor said.

Being away changed the way 17-year reservist, Staff Sergeant James Weathers appreciates his family more than ever.

"I'm glad to be home. You don't know what you've got until you're gone," Staff Sgt. James Weathers said.

His daughter, wife, and teenage sons worried and missed him.

"Just the unknown. Not knowing when I was going to get the next phone call or anything like that. It was kind of tense," Melissa Weathers, James' wife, said.

"We love him. Most times I don't get to say that to him because I'm out running around doing something, but we love him," 14-year-old Jared Weathers.

The soldiers can relax for 90 days before reporting for local reserve duty again. Roseanna Bermudez is glad her husband can retire as stand in mommy to their 2 and ½ year old daughter.

These soldiers will be called back for a freedom salute ceremony where they and their families will be thanked for their service. As of today, their celebration is personal as they head home with the people they love.