Families’ joy as troops return from Iraq

A SERVICEMAN was left speechless as he held his newborn son for the first time following a six month tour in Iraq.

Senior Airman William Sprayberry was one of 28 troops to return to RAF Mildenhall following their deployment with the 100th Security Forces Squadron (SFS).

Their return to Suffolk was particularly poingant for Airman Sprayberry because it was the first time he had held his son Connor, who was born on January 6.

Stepping off the bus, which had arrived at RAF Mildenhall from Heathrow, the airman hugged and kissed his fianc�e, Airman 1st Class Chelsea Burke, who also serves with 100th SFS, and enjoyed his first ever hug with his son.

“I’m kind of speechless right now, just taking it all in,” he said, describing the moment.


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Other families told of the nervouseness they felt in the hours prior to the troops’ return.

Among them was Megan Russell, of the100th Force Support Squadron, who there for the homecoming of her husband Staff Sgt Lonnie Russell.

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“I’m beyond excited; I’ve been nauseous for a week,” she said in the moments before the bus carrying the returning troops arrvied.

“I’ve just been trying to calm myself down,” she said. “I’m so glad (my husband) is home,” she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Don Robertson, 100th SFS commander, said: “The two squads of defenders were deployed to Joint Base Balad for the last six months; two months prior to deploying, they were sent to training at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to hone both the kinetic and non-kinetic skills they would need in executing the counter-insurgency and irregular warfare techniques, tactics and procedures they would employ outside the wire in the defense of Balad.”

“It was a very long and dangerous deployment for these defenders, but they performed exceedingly well, and we’re all very proud to have them home.”

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