Virginia National Guard soldiers return early from Iraq

Sgt Guy Meader of Manassas embraces son Ethan, 8, as wife Deborah and daughter, Isabelle, 5, wait for their turn. Sgt. Meader is one of 130 soldiers affiliated with the Virginia Army National Guard and part of the drawdown of forces in Iraq.

A group of Virginia National Guardsmen and women returned from Iraq to lots of hugs and kisses Monday afternoon.

The families of the deployed soldiers anticipated a year-long deployment.

But a call came from the upper ranks and with the drawdown of troops in Iraq well underway, the Virginia National Guard soldiers and their families got a homecoming, six months early.

The 130 soldiers are part of a larger group of 825 soldiers, the largest unit of Virginia Army National Guard troops since WWII.

It was specialist Matthew Curtis' first time away from the family. His brothers showed the strain of his absence.

“I haven't seen him,” says brother Sean Bache. ”I've missed him.”