875th: Back from Iraq

TOMAH, WI - More than 200 members of a northeast Arkansas-based National Guard Unit that has been serving in Iraq are back on United States soil.  The soldiers of the 875th Engineer Battalion disembarked from an airplane Saturday at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Major General Bill Wofford, commander of the Arkansas National Guard as the state's adjutant general, was there to shake each soldier's hand and tell each one, "Welcome home" after a year's deployment to Iraq.

The soldiers on the plane were members of the battalion's Alpha and Charlie companies, about half the total strength of the battalion.  The rest of the unit arrived at Fort McCoy around 3 a.m. this morning.

Specialist Matt Richardson of Paragould immediately noticed a difference after stepping off the Continental Airlines Boeing 777.  He said, "It's quiet, isn't it?  There's no aircraft overhead, no command post on the loudspeaker, no incoming-fire warnings."  But he said the best part is there was no dirt or dust clouding the air, and everything around him was green.  As he put it, "It's home."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)