Home For The Holidays

By Kiersten Mathieu

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 4, 2006 at 2:19 PM EDT

With flags in hand, friends and family of the soldiers from the 204th Engineering Battalion anticipated their arrival outside the West End Armory in Binghamton.
When the 5 soldiers climbed out of the van just after midnight, the tears, hugs and kisses flowed.
"Its unbelievable. Its one of the greatest feelings I've ever had," says Charles Fish of Johnson City.
Charles Fish's wife, Shelby, says this Christmas present is...
"Better than best."
The men are among the soldiers with the 204th Engineer Battalion who were deployed to Iraq in November of 2004.
They spent the past year performing maintenance on vehicles in Southern Iraq.
Although back in the US, they're still on active duty, stationed at Ft Dix in New Jersey.
But they were granted an unexpected, 4-day holiday leave.
"It's unreal. Like I said, its amazing that we even got back here. I just can't explain it any better than that," says Brian Brown of Binghamton.
At the West End Armory in Binghamton, there was a mix of snow, rain and sleet.
But after spending more than a year in Iraq, the 5 soldiers didn't seem to mind the cold temperatures.
"Even though, I'm standing here shivering, its great. I wanted to see snow," says Russell Corpin of Candor.
And Russell Corpin wanted to see his wife, Cindy.
"I can't believe he's home for Christmas. I didn't even put up a tree because I really figured he wasn't coming home. And I said I'm not doing it without him. But now its different...Are you guys going to get a tree?...Yeah! Now we have to," says Cindy Corpin.
This gift can't be wrapped and put under the tree.
But having husbands, brothers, fathers and sons home is the best present these families could receive.
11 soldiers from the 204th Engineer Battalion were granted the leave from Fort Dix, but only 5 returned in a group to Binghamton, early Friday morning.
The soldiers will have to return to Fort Dix to finish their debriefing.
They'll come home for good next week, and the Armory will hold an official welcome home ceremony.

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