• Tears, smiles as JBLM soldiers come home

    By: Kevin McCarty


    There were tears, hugs and smiles at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Wednesday as members of the 555th Brigade and 7th Infantry Division returned home from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.

    Families waited nearly five hours for the troops, bursting into screams of joy as they marched into a large training area.

    "It was a long wait; I didn't think it was going to be that long," said Lee Woods who was there to greet her son Fredrick. "It was worth it," she added. Asked how he felt about the homecoming, Fredrick Woods quietly said, "I'm excited, thrilled."

    The troops spent their time in Afghanistan deconstructing forward operating bases and preparing to hand facilities over to Afghan troops. Some members of the brigade could return to continue that task in less than a year, according to Public Affairs Officer 1st Lt. Elizabeth Lewis.

    But the focus Wednesday was on homecoming and loved ones.

    Spec. James Vavra stood surrounded by his wife and daughters, who clung to him with tears in their eyes. Vavra called the greeting"outstanding, best one I've had so far." Vavra's wife, Suzie, asked how she felt, wiped away tears as she said, "Amazing. (I'm) complete again."


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