FORT HOOD, Texas - For Sgt. Carlos Perez, of 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, his time in Iraq is over, as he and almost 30 others from his brigade came back to hundreds of cheering family members, fellow Soldiers and other guests May 4, at Cameron Field.

The 4th BCT Soldiers came back as their unit's "torch party" and flew back with a much larger group of Soldiers from 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, as they shared their welcome home ceremony in front of the division headquarters.

The torch party is sent back earlier than the rest of the unit to help set up operations for their unit when it starts to deploy in its entirety.

As his unit's armor, Perez, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, will make sure the rest of his unit will come back to normal operations, as he will start to set up almost immediately.

Though for now, he said he is just happy to be home finally.

When he stepped off the bus and across the field, he said it was just really "awesome" to be able to see his family again, and this time, for good.

"I didn't expect my daughter to be so big," he said of his 2-year-old daughter Karla.

His wife Monica said she made sure she fixed up a good, huge home-cooked meal for him. "It's probably Puerto Rican food ... and a lot of it," Perez said. "I'm sure she plans on making me a little bit fatter now."

Ten-year-old Baylee Holmes ran up to her father, Capt. Ronald Holmes, the physician's assistant for 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, across a sea of 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers to welcome him home.

"It just doesn't feel real right now ... hasn't really sank in yet," Baylee said about having her father back home.

"Maybe it's because he just got back," she explained.
Holmes, who was overcome with emotion from seeing his wife, Karmen, daughter and son, Blake, 14, said he was at a complete loss of words. All the PA from Blackwell, Okla., could muster was a simple, "glad to be home."

4th BCT's flights are scheduled to go on for the next several weeks, bringing the rest of the brigade's Soldier back to Fort Hood, and Soldiers like Perez will make their transition back a little easier by having a system in place upon their return.