The last local infantry brigade still serving in a war zone is starting to come home. And if the soldiers’ good fortune holds out, they will make it back from Iraq having taken no combat casualties on this deployment.
A group of about 250 soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will be welcomed by loved ones at a ceremony Saturday morning at Joint Base Lewis-McChord – the first of several emotional reunions over the coming weeks as planes full of Stryker soldiers touch down.
The 4,000-member brigade deployed to Iraq last August and was based in Baghdad. It transferred authority to an Iraqi army brigade last weekend, another step in Iraqi self-sufficiency and President Obama’s planned withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by the end of this month.
The majority of 4th Brigade soldiers are expected home by mid-September, according to Lewis-McChord officials.
The 4th Brigade follows on the heels of the 5th Brigade, which returned from Afghanistan earlier this summer, and the 3rd Brigade, which came home from Iraq in recent weeks. Together, the three local Stryker units account for nearly 12,000 soldiers.
The 4th Brigade has seen less enemy contact over the last year than it did on its first Iraq deployment. The only death on this tour was Staff Sgt. Christopher Worrell, who died April 22 in what was described as a noncombat incident.
A total of 37 soldiers died on the 2007-08 deployment, when the brigade faced heavy combat.