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Fourth of July special to thousands of soldiers back from deployment

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Jul 03 2013 05:57:00 PM HST

Hundreds of soldiers return home to celebrate the 4th of July.

HONOLULU -

A kiss on the hand, a touch, it's the little things that remind Staff Sgt. Jeramy Sledge he's happy to be back home with his wife and daughter. He's one of more than 2,500 soldiers with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

They deployed back in January 2012, now they're home, and just in time to celebrate July 4.

"It's nice to be here with her than have her telling me about it. We will be together, so it will be great," said Sledge.

"It was very hard. We had just been married two weeks before he got stationed in Hawaii, and two weeks later he deployed," said Sledge's wife, Jennie Kaiser.

It's been nearly 10 years since most of our Hawaii-based major military units are back on U.S. soil at the same time.

"I know that the community is happy to have all the commands home for the first time in a long time. I think it reminds us of the nature of protecting independence, so we will celebrate independence this weekend," said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks with the United States Army.

Being home for the Fourth means much more than being able to watch fireworks.

"I get to see my family, I can talk to them a lot easier. It's not a big time difference, I can go out and enjoy some freedom. I'm not stuck in one place now so I'm very glad to be home," said Johnny Swafford with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

"Last year I spent Independence Day in Afghanistan away from friends and family. It's good to be with my unit, it's a lot more cohesive now that we are together and home," said Brian Vinchinski with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

There will be a Fourth of July celebration at Schofield Barracks. It's usually open to the public, but this year with most brigades back, it will only be open to military members and their families. Officials expect more than 30,000 people to attend.

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