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Oklahoma National Guard Troops Head Back To Texas

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Members of the 45th said goodbye Wednesday morning outside of the ORU Mabee Center. Members of the 45th said goodbye Wednesday morning outside of the ORU Mabee Center.
Last month, Operation Holiday Homecoming raised $600,000 to bring the troops home for Christmas. Last month, Operation Holiday Homecoming raised $600,000 to bring the troops home for Christmas.
Troops board buses early Wednesday for a return trip to Fort Bliss, Texas. Troops board buses early Wednesday for a return trip to Fort Bliss, Texas.

A holiday homecoming for thousands of Oklahoma soldiers comes to an end. Those soldiers were home on leave for the holidays thanks to generous donations from Oklahomans. But now, it is time to return to duty. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports Wednesday morning began with a 16 hour bus ride back to Texas for training, before they leave for Iraq.

For the soldiers and their families, the joy of having them home for Christmas is now replaced with the reality of duty calling.

"I'm just ready to get this over with, get over there," said Spc. Justin Hulsey.

More than 2,000 members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade are now on their way back to Fort Bliss, Texas. It will be their home away from home before leaving for Iraq. They did have 10 days on leave to spend with their families.

"Had a great holiday. All the family over before I left and just had a good time," said soldier Daniel Wheeler.

"I hung out with my family a lot. Celebrated Christ's birth and stuff. It was a good time," said soldier Hugh Gaston of Okmulgee.

Operation Holiday Homecoming raised $600,000 to bring the troops home in time for Christmas. Being home for Christmas was very special, but leaving is tough.

"It tore me up this morning. We have two sons. One is four. The other is a little over one. We kind of stayed up all night watching movies and spending time with each other," said Spc. Brandon Cooper.

But now that time is coming to an end, and it's back to work. As they load onto buses bound for Texas, they leave family again.

"I know he'll be all right. He's tough. He's not going to let anything happen to him. He's got me and the kids and family and friends to come home to," said soldier's wife Heather Debrock.

Until they come home again, at least they'll have fresh Christmas memories of time spent with those they love.

The soldiers with the 45th will leave later this month for Iraq. Their deployment is expected to last about nine months.

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