About 300 early-returning Stryker soldiers from Iraq are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Wednesday.
Early-returning, in two ways. It’s expected to be the wee hours of the morning when they are met at Sheridan Gym by the tired but eager embraces of wives, children and other family members.
And they will come home more than a month earlier than most of their comrades of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Last August, the Army’s original Stryker brigade left Lewis-McChord on what was supposed to be a year-long deployment – its third tour of Iraq since 2003.
Officials at the local base say most of the remaining troops in those two battalions – about 1,200, total – will be home by mid-July.
What about the rest of the 4,000-soldier-strong Stryker brigade? Officials would only say they are “scheduled to return later this summer.”
Some might says it’s only fair that this brigade (or at least, some members of the brigade) get to come home early. Their last deployment, in 2006-07, was extended to 15 months. And it was hard combat.
This time, the 3rd Brigade’s area of operations spans Diyala province, and the duty has been much quieter. The other Lewis-McChord Stryker unit currently in Iraq – the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division – is based in Baghdad.