FORT STEWART, Ga. On a cold December morning, Families of 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team waited with bated breath for their Soldiers to march across Cottrell Field. Although it was past 1:30 a.m., Dec. 12, the Families were more than willing to wait. The 3rd Infantry Division band strikes up a lively marching beat, breaking the lull in the crowd's screams, and Soldiers emerge from the tree line. As Soldiers of 1st HBCT have been returning since early November, this coming home ceremony marked the return of the brigade command and command sergeant major.

After the formation finished marching across the field, 1st HBCT commander, Col. Roger Cloutier, and Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson, uncased the brigade colors, signifying the brigade's return to the States.

Major General Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commander, spoke at the event.

"Raiders, absolutely incredible job," he said, "we brought you from inside to outside Iraq in the last twelve months as you took on more and more battle space than any other brigade. You had the operational area of four U.S. Brigades."

Three more flights came in Sunday, bringing all the Soldiers of the Raider Brigade home in time for the holidays.

"You trained more than one-third of all the Iraqi Security Forces," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo. "You delivered freedom and insured hope to 6.5 million Iraqi people. There is no other place in America with greater love, warmth and pride than right here in coastal Georgia or among the people who stand behind me. "Welcome home."

After his speech, the general joined the Soldiers and Families in singing the Marne and Army songs, then the Families rushed out to welcome home their loved ones. The Soldiers of 1st HBCT will conduct ten days of reintegration training before going on block leave.