Guardsmen Grateful To Be Home For The Holidays

Staff Sergeant Randy Williams of Lumberton returned home from Iraq just days ago. Friday, his son Christopher, who served along side him there for the past year, returned as well. He's just one of another 124 members of the 155th happy to finally be home.

"What we been doing over there runs the gambit from nation building all the way to high intensity combat operations," Deputy Brigade Commander Col. Mike Thornton said.

Those operations claimed the lives of 30 of their fellow guardsmen, including 14 from Mississippi. They say it's an experience that leaves them duty bound for life.

"Once you've been over there and you've been in that situation, the phrase 'Band of Brothers' has new meaning to you," Col. Thornton said.

For Corporal Mario Murray, returning to his home in Columbus means his year long prayer is answered.

"I got a 10-month-old son I really want to get home to," says Murray. "I prayed every night if God could just grant me that blessing, to be here with my son, that was Christmas enough for me."

Those sentiments were echoed by his fellow brigade team mates.

"To live in America, it's a blessing compared to what they live like over there," says Sergeant Bryan Payne of Greenville. "If I never have to go back over there, I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

And though they're thankful to be home, their thoughts remain with the brothers in arms they left behind.

"For the troops that are over there for the holidays and for the time still remaining, they have a tough task ahead of them," warns Lt. Mark Weber of Pennsylvania. "The enemy's still out there and they're still trying to do their agenda. But we will prevail."