By Sgt 1st Class Michael Hampton
RICHMOND, Va. - More than 150 families received belated holiday gifts Jan. 7, when members of the 654th Military Police Company returned home after serving over a year in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Families, friends and love ones were all smiles when Soldiers arrived at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond on several buses from Fort Dix, N.J., where the Soldiers redeployed after completing their mission in Iraq.
The 654th entered active federal service on Oct. 18, 2005. After completing several months of intensive training at Fort Dix, Soldiers of the 654th headed to Iraq where they served as security forces for dignitaries, VIP’s and others, in and around the “Green Zone,” as well as other parts of Baghdad.
The 654th entered Baghdad at a time when an escalation of violence had been seen in the area, making the mission that much more important and dangerous.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine, who visited the Soldiers in March of 2006, was on hand for the event. Kaine said the Soldiers were proud and felt good about what they were doing. He expressed gratitude for their contribution and thanked the families for their sacrifice.
U.S. Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th was also on hand for the event and thanked the Soldiers for answering the call when America needed them the most.
Families of the Soldiers waded through several brief speeches and the retiring of the colors in great anticipation. Once the order to dismiss was given, a wave of hugs flooded the pavilion as Soldiers and families were reunited after being separated for more than a year.