After a tour Iraq, the 325th is home again.

After collecting her bags at KCI, all Sgt. Tasha Downum could do was hold her son, Zavier Murillo. She swung him back and forth on her shoulder near an exit that pointed to home.

Downum returned Thursday with the rest of the 325th Army Combat Support Hospital. The Independence-based Army unit arrived in Kansas City more than 20 minutes earlier than expected Thursday evening after spending nine months in Iraq.

Downum, of Blue Springs, worked in the motor pool, dealing with parts inventory and computers. She does not know what she is going to do now that she is back in Missouri, but Zavier said he knew what she would do though.

“She’s going to play with me,” Zavier said.

“I’m going to play with him,” Downum said cheerfully before pulling him in for another hug. “I guess I really don’t have a choice.”

The 325th is an Army Reserve medical unit. A combat support hospital is the modern equivalent of a mobile army surgical hospital, or MASH. In Iraq, soldiers treated coalition forces as well as Iraqi nationals and injured insurgents.

The unit has personnel from across the county, but primarily from the Midwest. The unit’s charter flight home also made stops in St. Louis and Springfield. More than 100 soldiers ended their trip in Kansas City. The 325th left Independence a year ago and then deployed to Iraq in August.        

Staff Sgt. Shaun Davis of Baldwin City, Kan., was met at the airport by his wife, two kids, his mother and his wife’s grandmother. He said it was hard being away from home.

“It was horrible,” Davis said. “It doesn’t make time go fast being away from family.”

Davis said he was one of the last soldiers to get off the plane. 

“My heart was beating a thousand times a minute,” Davis said. “I haven’t seen my kids for six months. They’re getting huge.”

Davis worked in surgery and plans to go back to his regular job as a certified first assistant. This was Davis’s first deployment, but even those soldiers who had returned from overseas deployment before, felt the excitement. Master Sgt. Rick Keyes of Seattle would not reach home for another day, but still enjoyed the airport homecoming. 

“It feels great,” Keyes said. “I’ve done this a couple of times now, but it never gets old.”