FORT POLK, LA (KPLC) - Families and friends gathered at Fort Polk Thursday to welcome home 250 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division from Iraq Thursday.
Col. Brian Sullivan, 3-10's commander, says his soldiers fought alongside Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS and allow the country to have "its most secure elections since the country became a free and democratic state."
Most of the soldiers were deployed between nine and 12 months.
"Coming home is the best part of every deployment," says Sullivan. "You know, they are just overjoyed with emotions just to be with their loved ones. Being able to hug their kids sometime, for some of them, the first time. It's just a joyous day for all of them".
One mom, Sarah Atencio, from New Mexico, says her only daughter, Sgt. Emilia Holmes has been deployed for nine months. She was joined Thursday by Holmes' two children, Zoe and Logan. Atencio says her daughter became interested in ROTC in high school before signing up for the Army. She says she was anxiously waiting for her daughter to walk through the door.
"I'm just super excited. The kids are really excited too. I'm going to kiss her and hug her and hold her, even if she pulls away," Atencio says while laughing.
Col. Sullivan says that this was his first deployment as a father. His wife and son greeted him with hugs and kisses. When asked which is harder, being a father or being in charge of his soldiers, he said: "fatherhood's harder."