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300 medical soldiers return home from Iraq

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Posted: Monday, April 23, 2007 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:54 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Sgt. Dimitrius Peggins was upset that he was missing almost a year of his first child's life.

Talia was only 3 months old the first time he saw her when on leave from a yearlong deployment with the 13th Sustainment Command's 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade.

At first he didn't know what to do, Peggins' wife, Talila said. He hasn't been around a lot of children, but it didn't take him long to figure it out.

He's worried Talia won't come to him and won't know who he is, Talila said, while sitting in the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center Saturday. About 300 soldiers of the Combat Support Hospital returned from Iraq that day. They provided medical care to detainees at Abu Ghraib and Bucca, according to information from the 13th Sustainment Command.

Soldiers who make up the 21st Combat Support Hospital come from Army medical centers across the United States – part of the professional filler system. About half are from Fort Hood, said Col. Jim Rice, the 13th Sustainment Command's and 1st Medical Brigade's commander.

Talia was decked out in a set of mini ACUs, complete with tan boots, and Talila was confident her daughter would remember her daddy.

"They act alike," she joked. "She'll know who he is."

The Pegginses were waiting at the gym with their friend, Tamara Martin. She was waiting for her husband, Spc. Christopher Martin. The sergeant and specialist are best friends, the wives said, and they suggested their wives meet.

Peggins is a licensed vocational nurse and Martin a registered nurse. This was Peggins' first deployment and Martin's second, their wives said.

Christopher and Tamara got married when he was on leave in September. They will have a formal wedding on Oct. 6, and Dimitrius will be the best man. The two couples are also going on a vacation together during the soldiers' block leave.

Tamara has never lived with her husband and said it was something that would really hit home once she saw him walk in the gym. It will be emotional to see their husbands for the first time in such a long while, they said.

Tamara wears a necklace with a medallion that spells her husband's name in Arabic. He has a similar one with her name. She said that they were good luck and were supposed to offer protection. She said she got worried during the beginning of the deployment because she would see news reports on television. She did feel better after Christopher reassured her that he was not involved in that type of combat, she said.

At last, the soldiers marched into the gym and lined up in front of the families. Talila and Tamara spotted their soldiers but had to wait until they were dismissed.

When the formation finally broke, Christopher ran to Tamara and they embraced for several minutes, never parting an inch. Talila found her way to Dimitrius for a hug. He took Talia in his arms, where she stayed. She occasionally smiled and looked at her daddy.

It was as if they had never been apart.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at astair@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7547

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