December 19, 2005
The holidays are a time to spend with your family. Several families in Central Virginia got a present that was first on their wish list - their loved one back home from Iraq.
Frank Randozzo got the perfect Christmas present this year. His daughter back home from Iraq safe and sound and just in time for the holidays.
"I told her I didn't want anything for Christmas, just to have her back," said Randozzo.
Tammy Dressler, along with several others from the Army's National Guard 1173rd Transportation Company, made their way back to the armory in Staunton Monday, after about a year in Iraq.
"It's just so great to be back home. Everyone has just been waiting for this for so long," said Sgt. Tammy Dressler.
The group says being in Iraq is very different from what they were used to, and that it's the simple things they missed.
"It's taking a shower without having to wear shoes and just eating a hot meal and turning on the TV," said Sgt. Brooke Smith.
"Going to Wal-Mart. You know, actually being able to wear civilian clothes, doing what you want to do. Going where you want to go," added Dressler.
For now, going home will be just fine, where their loved ones are more than willing to pick up right where they left off.
"Now I can pick on her and make fun of her and all that stuff so, it's great," said Smith's brother, Dustin.
"You have him back in perfect health is a Godsend," said mother of a returning soldier, Jan Harman.
So for these families, you can say Christmas came a bit early.
"I'll be home for Christmas. It's great for the family, everybody's happy. It's just going to be a happy holiday," said Specialist Dan Schmittinger
It's one that starts with a happy homecoming.
About 135 National Guard Troops returned back home to Virginia Monday.