WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A military town on Oahu is looking forward to welcoming home hundreds of troops from Iraq. The soldiers based at Schofield Barracks are busy closing down U.S. military operations in the country, but many will be back in time for Christmas. The troops from the 25th Infantry Division headquarters deployed right after Thanksgiving last year. They missed spending the holidays with their loved ones, but this time many of them will be with their families.
Julie Effner keeps things running smoothly at Kemoo Farms which relies on the military for much of its business. The restaurant is open 365 days a year, and large deployments always affect sales.
"Usually we get a lot of people from the base at lunchtime. When they're gone I think that's probably when we notice it the most," said Effner.
Kemoo Farms has survived ups and downs over the decades. Effner hopes to see the place full again with 700 Schofield troops set to return.
"It's great for the families. It's great for the community. If it wasn't for our soldiers and our families here supporting us, we wouldn't be here," Effner said.
The soldiers will be coming home in waves.
"We are going to start seeing our soldiers come home from Operation New Dawn towards the end of November, through December," explained master sergeant James Guzior, a spokesperson for the 25th Infantry Division.
Many of them are expected back before Christmas. A small group will remain in Iraq until early January.
"When you're closing down several bases it's pretty busy down there right now, and so those guys are doing a lot of logistical stuff, moving soldiers, vehicles, equipment around," said Guzior.
Heather Hill is an Army wife working at Omni Financial & Liberty Tax in Wahiawa. The business offers financial help to military members and their families.
"I think we're gonna be really busy, especially around the holidays. That's when most people come and get loans and stuff. We're so excited for them to come back. It's great to have them home," said Hill.
"We have a huge investment in Iraq, and we're very proud that the 25th Infantry Division was called upon to be the last unit there to close it down. So we want them to come home with honor," said Guzior.