ATLANTA - The battle flag that flew over Baghdad's Camp Striker and the area south of the Iraqi capital known as the "Triangle of Death" officially returned to Georgia Tuesday.
Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade, presented the flag to Gov. Sonny Perdue during a ceremony at the Capitol.
The 4,400-member brigade returned this month from a yearlong deployment in Iraq.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to have you all back," Perdue told a contingent of fatigue-clad troops on hand for Tuesday's event. "We honor you and your service as our citizen soldiers. We honor your sacrifice and your courage for leaving the comfort of your homes and families to serve a greater cause."
Perdue, who visited members of the brigade in Iraq last Thanksgiving and traveled to Savannah to welcome them home this month, cited the unit's accomplishments during his remarks.
He thanked them for training almost 2,500 Iraqi soldiers, creating more than 600 jobs in southern Baghdad and helping establish more than 20 polling sites that were used by 62,000 Iraqi voters.
"Today, virtually every single member of the Georgia Army National Guard is a combat veteran," said Maj. Gen. David Poythress, the Georgia guard's commander.
Members of the 48th who attended Tuesday's ceremony said they appreciated the tribute.
"It's a great recognition," said Lt. Col. Chic Lewis of Madison.
Rodeheaver said the battle flag he was presenting to the governor was raised at every one of 26 memorial services for those members of the unit who died fighting for their country.
"We hold dear in our hearts and prayers the families who lost a loved one in service," Perdue said. "While we can never fully understand their grief, we will not allow them to grieve alone."