Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Abu Ghraib reserve unit welcomed back in Maryland parade

AP , CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND

The Army reserve unit at the center of the Iraqi prison scandal at Abu Ghraib got a delayed but heartfelt welcome home from about 400 friends and family on Friday.

Gathered on a downtown pedestrian mall, the crowd cheered the 372nd Military Police company, based in nearby Cresaptown, with a parade, patriotic songs, yellow ribbons and signs proclaiming: "Welcome Home 372nd. Thank You."

The unit returned home to a ceremony last month at Fort Lee, Virginia, but there had been no fanfare in western Maryland.

"It's good knowing people appreciate what we did," said soldier Chris MacDonald-Hill, 22.

"You can't deny what happened. The pictures showed that," said Connie Deining, holding a sign to welcome home MacDonald-Hill. "But it was six or seven people. There's a lot of really good people in this unit."

Seven soldiers from the 372nd were charged with various crimes; two have pleaded guilty.

"We still have a cloud over our head, but we are trying to stay positive," unit commander Captain Donald Reese said.

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