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Green County soldiers coming home in January
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Greetings from the troops

Just wanted to wish my parents a Merry Christmas Season ... Benito and Melissa Cuevas of Argyle.

-Specialist Michael Cuevas, C TRP 1-105th Cav, 32nd IBCT

I just want to say a huge "Thank You" to all of those who are supporting all of us over here. The cards, letters and care packages remind me of how much I am loved and remembered even way over here. I am looking forward to 2010 and coming home to the beautiful state of Wisconsin. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

- Julie A. Bifulk, Specialist WIARNG, stationed in Camp Taji, Iraq, as apart of A-Co. 2-127th Infantry out of Ripon and Waupun. Hometown - Albany and graduated from AHS in 2003.

MONROE - Families and friends of some Green County soldiers - and the troops themselves - will get a belated Christmas gift in January.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is upbeat about spending the holidays on deployment in Iraq, in part because everyone knows what the new year will bring - a trip back home next month.

The brigade includes the 1158th Transportation Unit, which contains soldiers from Green County.

"Right now we're in the midst of transferring our missions all over Iraq to our replacement unit from the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Texas National Guard," said Lt. Col. Tim Donovan, public affairs officer for the 32nd Brigade. "So as we complete that process, which is called 'relief in place,' we'll have a formal transfer of authority ceremony. At that point the mission is theirs and we're cleared to go home."

Donovan said the 32nd Brigade will move south into Kuwait to process out and fly into Wisconsin sometime in January. The various units in the brigade will spend perhaps up to a week at Fort McCoy to de-mobilize, "to reverse the process that brought us onto active duty in February," Donovan said. "Then we're finished."

Even with that good news just around the corner, leaders in the brigade are taking steps to ensure soldiers had a merry Christmas.

"Our commanders all over Iraq, wherever the 32nd Brigade soldiers are working, are doing the best they can to create some kind of holiday atmosphere," Donovan said. "Here in Baghdad we're going to have a Christmas party on Christmas night at the chapel - just an informal way to get together with our soldiers and the soldiers who are replacing us, and celebrate Christmas as best we can a long way from home."

Donovan said the brigade is working hard to ensure that the 72nd Brigade is fully prepared to pick up where the 32nd will leave off.

"We're all in this to make a difference," he said. "We're thankful we made a difference here in Iraq."

Making a difference half a world away does not come without cost, Donovan said, though he said the brigade is thankful it has not lost any soldiers in Iraq due to hostile action. The cost comes in time lost with families and time missed from their jobs at home, he said.

"We're going to give the people of Wisconsin their money's worth from our deployment by making sure that we left Iraq a better place than when we found it," Donovan said.