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Soldiers Return Home In Time For Christmas

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More than 400 men and women made their way home for the holidays, all thanks to the kindness of strangers. More than 400 men and women made their way home for the holidays, all thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Ten days is all they get then it's back to Fort Bliss and on to the Middle East. Ten days is all they get then it's back to Fort Bliss and on to the Middle East.
Dubbed Operation Holiday Homecoming, more than $600,000 were raised from private companies and everyday citizens to bring the 2,600 soldiers of the 45th back to Oklahoma for a little holiday cheer. Dubbed Operation Holiday Homecoming, more than $600,000 were raised from private companies and everyday citizens to bring the 2,600 soldiers of the 45th back to Oklahoma for a little holiday cheer.

More than 400 men and women made their way home for the holidays, all thanks to the kindness of strangers. The News On 6's Dan Bewley reports the men and women of the 45th Infantry Brigade have been training in Texas since late October.  On Sunday, they come home by air and by ground, for a ten day holiday getaway.

"I've been here since seven-thirty this morning, waiting," said Chelsie Sullivan who is a soldier's wife.

Sullivan was joined by hundreds of others at the Mabee Center, waiting for their citizen soldier to come home.

"I'm so excited, it's going to be the best Christmas ever," said Sullivan.

At the same time, across town at the airport, there were more families and more waiting.

"We've been counting this down for quite a while and it's finally here," said Traci Taylor.

Finally, after more than four hours, the waiting was over.

The same could seen 17 miles away.

"Feels great. It's going to be the best ten days yet," said 1st Lieutenant James Lowry.

In all, 474 soldiers are back in Green Country, home for the holidays.

"It's awesome just seeing his face come through the door and the smile and he's home, for ten days," said Don Johnson whose son returned home.

Ten days is all they get then it's back to Fort Bliss and on to the Middle East.

"Something's better than nothing, you know what I mean?" said Specialist Chris Sullivan.

The celebration would not have happened without help from strangers. Dubbed Operation Holiday Homecoming, more than $600,000 were raised from private companies and everyday citizens to bring the 2,600 soldiers of the 45th back to Oklahoma for a little holiday cheer.

"We're all very appreciative of that, that's a huge deal," said Specialist Ryan Johnson.

"Great Christmas present, thanks to everybody," said Don Johnson.

For Chelsie and Chris Sullivan, the homecoming is extra special.  It's the first time they've seen each other since learning she is pregnant.

"Just getting to see her, that's the best part of Christmas, you know what I mean? That's like our little Christmas present," said Specialist Chris Sullivan.

The members of the National Guard will return to Fort Bliss on January 2nd for more training.  Once in the Middle East, the soldiers will do everything from mounted patrol to security detail.

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