4,500 Schofield soldiers return home

Sgt. Jean C. Morris
Sgt. Jean C. Morris
Provost Marshall Tony Rodrigues and Wife Beth
Provost Marshall Tony Rodrigues and Wife Beth
Sgt. Thomas Arpasi and Family
Sgt. Thomas Arpasi and Family
Capt. Will Boyd and Family
Capt. Will Boyd and Family

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

WAHIAWA (KHNL) - 4,500 Hawaiii-based soldiers are back in the arms of loved ones. On Thursday, they had their official homecoming at Schofield Barracks.

They marched at Sills Field, putting an official end to their 15-month-long mission in the war on terrorism.

Soldiers with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, 4,500 strong at Schofield Barracks, but not without wounds and losses.

"I was right there, I witnessed the whole thing," said Sgt. Jean C. Morris.

10 soldiers died, at least 20 injured.

"Very tough because it could've easily been me," said Morris.

That haunting 'what if', has loved ones clutching on tightly to their heroes.

35 of them received purple hearts, and four, pinned with bronze star medals.

"He always goes above and beyond," said Beth Rodrigues about her husband, who received a bronze star.

Now, their duty is to their families.

"I missed a lot with {my baby}, I missed a lot with {my wife}, it was really hard," said Sgt. Thomas Arpasi.

Many say they are eager to return to a normal life.

"You gain appreciation for just the little things, from getting the diaper bag ready," said Capt. Wil Boyd.

And appreciation for what matters most.

"I couldn't do anything without her. She's a great support," said Provost Marshall Tony Rodrigues about his wife.

And it's these Kodak moments soldiers say, that are worth fighting for to the finish.

In the area they served in Iraq, the Army says the Brigade helped decrease attacks by 71% compared to 2007, boost the economy by more than 80%, finished 150-plus school projects and 20 hospital projects.