EARLY CHRIST­MAS PRESENT AR­RIVES

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NATION -

MIL­I­TARY fam­i­lies re­ceived an early Christ­mas present yes­ter­day as hun­dreds of Aus­tralian Army troops re­turned home from Iraq.

Chil­dren ran into open arms and part­ners shed tears of hap­pi­ness at the Bris­bane In­ter­na­tional Air­port as nearly 300 troops from the Task Group Taji-7 train­ing mis­sion came home.

The con­tin­gent has been over­sease since June, train­ing more than 4500 Iraqi sol­diers.

Ben Evans was met by daugh­ters Poppy and Milla as he walked through the ar­rivals gate.

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 the best Christ­mas present.”

Ben Driver was fi­nally able to meet his 10-week-old niece Ruby Stafford. .

“He’s very happy to be home and we’re very happy he’s back here for Christ­mas,” his mum Janell Driver said

Colonel Justin By­wa­ter said con­di­tions had been chal­leng­ing but that it had been a suc­cess­ful mis­sion.

“We’ve gone from train­ing in 55C to now be­ing very wet,” he said. “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.”

Pic­ture: AN­NETTE DEW

Sam and Ben Evans with kids Milla and Poppy cel­e­brate be­ing re­united.

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