Arkansas soldiers return from Iraq

(March 10, 2004) — (Conway-AP) -- About 100 Arkansas soldiers have arrived home after a year on duty, most of that time in Iraq. They stepped off a bus in Conway yesterday, where smiling and tearful family members greeted them with hugs and American flags. The soldiers are from Company B- of the 489th Engineer Battalion. They were greeted by about 200 shouting friends and relatives, waiving flags and home-made signs. Company B- left Arkansas in February 2003 and have been in Iraq since April. Army Reservist Zachery Pankey hugged his parents after the nine-hour bus ride from Fort Hood, Texas. And then he saw his girlfriend. The 21-year-old Pankey picked up 18-year-old Laura Hooper for a long kiss, trying to make up for the time that he'd been away. Pankey said he was in disbelief, but then it hit him that he was finally home. The remaining soldiers in the 438-member battalion are due back in the weeks ahead.