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160 Schofield soldiers returning Tuesday from Iraq deployment


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POSTED: Sunday, September 06, 2009

The first 160 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Bronco Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to arrive home Tuesday morning after being in Iraq for nearly a year.

The Bronco Brigade, under the command of Col. Walter Piatt, operated in the Salah ad Din Province in northern Iraq, working in the key cities of Kirkuk, Tikrit, Bayji, Mosul Samarra, and Balad since last October.

The Tropic Lightning soldiers completed 230 projects, including roads, 60 school renovations, seven new schools, 52 water projects providing new wells and water-treatment facilities, and 11 electricity-distribution and infrastructure renovations to hospitals and clinics.

A welcome-home ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Schofield Barracks.

About 3,400 Bronco Brigade soldier, along with an additional 1,000 from the 25th Division's headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, left Hawaii last year.

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It was the brigade's third combat deployment and the second to Iraq. The first was to Afghanistan in 2004. Fifteen soldiers from the 25th Division's 3rd Brigade were combat casualties from January 2004 through June 2005.

Caslen heads Multi-National Division North, also known as Task Force Lighting, and operates out of Contingency Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit in northern Iraq, more than 105 miles north of Baghdad.

The two-star Schofield Barracks general is responsible for an area the size of the state of Ohio in northern Iraq. He commands 20,000 soldiers assigned to six brigades from Hawaii, Alaska, Texas and New York.

In November, Caslen will turn over the command of Task Force Lightning to Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, who heads the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Six Bronco Brigade soldiers were killed in Iraq during the nearly yearlong deployment.

Thirty-six soldiers serving with the 3rd Brigade and other Schofield Barracks units died during its first Iraqi deployment, which lasted 15 months, in 2006.