FORT HOOD, TEXAS - While the sleigh that landed at Fort Hood's Robert Gray Army Airfield a little after midnight on the morning of Dec. 25 didn't belong to Santa Claus, it was packed with presents for friends and families of the 1st Cavalry Division.

So friends and families waited at the division's parade field with the DJ playing some traditional and contemporary Christmas music and a giant Christmas tree standing on the field in front of them.

At around 2 a.m. the "presents" arrived.

Five white buses filled with nearly 200 Soldiers from the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team pulled up in front of the cheering families at Cooper Field.

The Soldiers got off the buses, marched across the field, and after a few remarks by Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, the Fort Hood Installation Commander, they were released to their waiting friends and families.

For many of the Soldiers' families, the timing came as a bit of a surprise.

"It's a good feeling, because we weren't expecting him home until January," said Sylvia Rodriguez. "It's a good present."

Rodriguez's husband, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, missed Christmas at home last year after deploying with his unit in October of 2006.

Rodriguez said that the day after Thanksgiving, she found out her husband might be coming home in December.

"It was awesome," the Miami, native said.

But it wasn't just the families that were surprised by the Christmas morning homecoming.

Sgt. Cirildo Guerrero, a logistics specialist also with the 15th BSB, said that many of the Soldiers on the flight didn't know they would be home for Christmas either.

The day was extra special for Guerrero, who also got to see his 2-month-old son Cid for the first time. Before this he had only gotten to see photos.

Rodriguez said that her and her husband don't have any big plans for the holidays, instead they plan to spend time together at home with their 2-year-old daughter Ariana.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16