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Soldiers Return

Home sweet home; for the first time in a year these United States soldiers are back at home-back in the arms of loved ones.

SGT Stacey Merritt says the feeling is overwhelming.

SGT Stacey Merritt of the Florida National Guard said, "Love, just love. I love my family, I love my country. I'm glad to be home."

As are hundreds of Florida National Guardsmen who spent the last 14 months in Iraq leaving behind these loved ones who are overjoyed with their return.

Alva Brown, Senior Aidman Alpha Company, says "She's six months old now; she was born right after we hit Baghdad I guess.”

Some came home to new surprises while others brought home heartache like Joseph Renfroe who lost his best friend Specialist Robert Wise in a roadside bomb, the only casualty in the unit.

SPC Joseph Renfroe of the Florida National Guard said, "It was only about one block away, it was pretty shocking, no one wanted to believe it was happening."

A bittersweet reunion for Refroe, but one that's blanketed by the unconditional love his family gives.

"When I grow up I want to be just like you, he's my hero."

Hero, an appropriate word for this strong, courageous group, who can show their softer side, like the teddy bears seen on their back. All 120 soldiers from the Third Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment served 14 months on active duty in Iraq.


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