By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti

1st Cavalry Division public affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, celebrated on Saturday what they hope signifies their final 100 days of their 15-month deployment with a party.

The event marked the end of the unit’s first year. The evening had a sense of the tropics complete with palm trees, colorful balloons and streamers.

The brigade entered Iraq in October 2006 for what was then a 12-month deployment. A three-month extension was announced in late April.

The soldiers socialized and played games while enjoying a bounty of food at the party.

“Positive events such as this party are good morale builders,” said Spc. Andrew Dubay, an infantryman for a personal security detachment attached to the unit.

Many of the soldiers said they find solace by keeping in touch with their loved ones and relaxing on their limited time off with fellow troops. Participating in events the morale, welfare and recreation center provides, going to the pool and playing spades are a few things that help them stay upbeat.

“The additional time away from family is hard to cope with, but I understand that the extension enabled the surge and it helped bring more stability,” said Master Sgt. Jason Swain, noncommissioned officer in charge of intelligence for the brigade.

The soldiers said they look forward to returning home and reuniting with loved ones.

“It doesn’t matter what I do, just being with my wife and daughter is enough,” said Swain.

Dubay, who recently reenlisted for another six years, plans on getting married and going to Ranger school once he returns stateside.

Brigade officials anticipate being back in the states by mid-February 2008.

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