MILITARY families received an early Christmas present yesterday as hundreds of Australian Army troops returned home from Iraq.
Children went running into open arms and partners shed tears of happiness at the Brisbane International Airport to welcome nearly 300 troops from the Task Group Taji-7 training mission.
The contingent has been away from home since June, training more than 4500 Iraqi Army soldiers in a bid to stabilise areas in the Middle East.
Ben Evans was swarmed by his daughters Poppy, 3, and Mila, 4, as he walked through the arrivals gate and said it was amazing to see his family again.
“It’s an incredible feeling to come home to this,” he said, daughters in his ams.
“I haven’t been home for about seven months so it’s nice to see my girls again.”
His partner Sam said it had been like Christmas morning in their household all day.
“The girls have been up since 4am waiting to see their dad,” she said.
“It’s definitely the best Christmas present you could get.”
Ben Driver was finally able to meet his 10-week-old niece Ruby Stafford.
“It’s very emotional,” his mum Janell Driver said.
“He’s very happy to be home and we’re very happy he’s back here for Christmas.”
Colonel Justin Bywater said conditions had been challenging but it had been a successful mission.
“We’ve gone from having the heights of summer and training in 55C to now being very wet,” he said.
“A lot of troops will come back and they’ll know how important it was.
“It’s a good chance for them to talk with their families and really understand just how valuable it is. There are a lot of people trained over there because of our mission.”