82nd gets hero's welcome at Pope AFB

About 250 members of the 82nd Airborne Division returned to hugs and kisses this morning at Pope Air Force Base.

It's the first wave of homecomings from Iraq duty for the Fort Bragg-based paratroopers.

Major General Charles Swannack made special mention of the fact that all of his troops came back alive.

The returning soldiers are mostly commanders from headquarters units and the division's support personnel.

Troops from the 82nd left for Iraq in February. Over the next few days about 12-hundred soldiers will be flown back.

Swannack says the division's four-thousand-member infantry brigade may be able to come home from Iraq sometime this summer. He also says another brigade-sized element of 82nd paratroopers is on duty in Afghanistan and may return in the fall.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)