By Sgt Jessica Kuhn, XVIII CorpsNovember 4, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C.-- For Family members and their deployed Soldiers, the official countdown clock to them coming home starts as soon as they say their tear-filled goodbyes.
Some Soldiers and Families clocks finally hit zero when another large group of XVIII Airborne Corps Soldiers redeployed from Iraq to Fort Bragg, N.C. Nov. 4.
"My Daddy was in Iraq," said Drake Schlosser, 4, "fighting for our country."
Drake, along with his mom, Katherine, waited anxiously along with several other Families and friends for the next wave of XVIII Abn. Corps Soldiers to come home after their yearlong deployment.
"It's been exhausting waiting all week, but it's great to know we finally have him home," Schlosser, the wife of Staff Sgt. Dennis Schlosser, said.
After a short welcome home speech from Maj. Gen. Rodney O. Anderson, the deputy commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps, congratulating the Soldiers on a job well done, the Soldiers were released to their Families and friends.
"It feels great to be home," said Staff Sgt. Michael Bernquist. "This was my first deployment away from the family."
Almost everyone, when asked what the hardest part of the deployment was, unanimously answered that it was being away from their loved ones.
"I have deployed before without having a Family and it didn't really bother me, but now, with my two little girls, it's a lot harder because all they knew was Daddy left," Bernquist said.
Meanwhile, Bernquist's wife, Brandi, dealt with her own struggles during the deployment.
"The hard part is being here alone, the other half of the deployment that is sometimes forgotten," Brandi said. "It's having to take on the whole work load by myself because he isn't here to help me."
In the end, smiles and tears of joy took place along with plans for celebration of the Soldiers return.
"We are actually headed to Atlanta to attend the Minnesota Viking's game, his favorite team," said Katherine. "The owner of the Viking's gave him the tickets."
Additionally, the Bernquist family had plans of their own.
"I can't wait for him to cook dinner tonight," Brandi said. "It is one of the things I have really missed."
Redeployment ceremonies will continue until all XVIII Abn. Corps Soldiers are projected to be home by the end of Dec.