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Hugs mark happy homecoming for Fort Carson GIs

October 21, 2015 Updated: October 21, 2015 at 4:05 am
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photo - U.S. Army Sgt. Ross Graziano is greeted by his wife, Nicole Graziano, after returning home from Kuwait with soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at the William Reed Special Events Center on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 in Fort Carson, Colorado. Graziano and the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat team were deployed in February 2015 to Kuwait and Iraq to support local operations and multilateral military exercises that extended over thirteen countries in the Southwest Asia region. Photo by Daniel Owen.
U.S. Army Sgt. Ross Graziano is greeted by his wife, Nicole Graziano, after returning home from Kuwait with soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at the William Reed Special Events Center on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 in Fort Carson, Colorado. Graziano and the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat team were deployed in February 2015 to Kuwait and Iraq to support local operations and multilateral military exercises that extended over thirteen countries in the Southwest Asia region. Photo by Daniel Owen. 

Nearly 300 soldiers kicked off a week of homecoming hugs as troops from Fort Carson's 3rd Brigade Combat Team reunited with jubilant family members in a ceremony at the post.

Hundreds more from the 4,400-soldier brigade are due back in Colorado this week as the unit wraps up a nine-month deployment to Kuwait. Since February, the soldiers have trained with troops from 13 Middle East nations.

Many of the soldiers will be busy at home, too.

Sgt. Ross Graziano found himself with his arms full of boys as he greeted his growing family. Hagan is 3, Easton is 2 and Caden is coming up on 2 months.

The older brothers were so eager for dad's homecoming that they rose before the sun.

"Hagan came into the bedroom saying, 'Let's go get Dad,' " said Graziano's wife, Nicole.

The boys had to wait several hours - the soldiers came home about 2 p.m.

Tuesday's wait was long for the toddlers, but families say 3rd Brigade's trip overseas was easier than its previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This was a nice deployment," said Jocelynn Pascua as she waited for her husband, Staff Sgt. Luke Pascua.

Pascua knows what she's talking about - it's the family's fourth deployment to the Middle East.

The others, she said, were longer and more dangerous.

Luke Pascua said the deployment was nice for soldiers, too, even if temperatures got a little more than balmy in Kuwait, with the mercury nearing 125 degrees.

"I'm excited to be home," he said.

The unit was in Kuwait as an insurance policy for U.S. leaders seeking to deter aggression in the region. If soldiers were needed to fight Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, the Fort Carson soldiers were trained, ready and in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, they helped strengthen Persian Gulf nations so they're ready for battle if the Islamic State terror spreads.

"We are tremendously proud of the contributions you made," the brigade's Lt. Col. Andrew Kosloski told the soldiers Tuesday.

The 280 soldiers who came back will be followed by hundreds more Wednesday. The planeloads will keep coming until the whole brigade is home.

And soldiers by the planeload will likely have a reaction similar to Ross Graziano's.

He smiled as he held his sons.

"It's good to be home," he said.

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