By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

WEST FORT HOOD Temperatures were around 80 degrees last week, but Staff Sgt. Christopher Davis and his family lit the fireplace anyway.

They opened a window to allow the heat to escape and sat back to enjoy the fire and their Christmas tree.

Davis, a soldier of the 4th Infantry Divisions Special Troops Battalion, began a yearlong deployment to Iraq this week and managed to squeeze in Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family before he left.

Ive got wonderful memories to take with me, Davis said at the Larkin Terminal at Robert Gray Army Airfield before he boarded a flight to Kuwait on Wednesday. Im very proud of my family and my country.

The last week at home was emotional for many deploying soldiers who said they couldnt hug their family members enough.

Portions of the 2nd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams, the Special Troops Battalion and the Fires Brigade left for the Middle East this week, with flights scheduled throughout the weekend. This deployment is the second for the 4th Infantry Division since the war in Iraq began in 2003.

Packing, moving and military processing for new spouses were some of the business items on the schedule.

Between the routine tasks, soldiers took their children to an extra movie or to the playground to play a last game for more than a year.

We were lucky to have the four-day weekend (for Thanksgiving) and time off before the deployment, said Staff Sgt. Fernanda Redwine of the Special Troops Battalion.

Some soldiers went searching for a favorite food during their final days in America before the deployment.

Sgt. Brandon Williams of Alpha Company, 589th Support Battal-ion, Fires Brigade, traveled to Round Rock to get some authentic barbecue when he returned from leave last week.

Im from Louisiana, so I ate nothing but Cajun food when I was home, Williams said Wednesday.

Others took a last spin around the mall.

I wanted to get a last feel, a last taste, because I wont get that in Iraq, Sgt. Shawn Schweinberg of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said Wednesday. I just relaxed.

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