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Lt. Col. returns home to wife and three sets of twins

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

SAUQUOIT, N.Y. (WKTV) - A recent homecoming for a Utica native and Lieutenant Colonel was especially sweet, as he had his own welcome 'brigade' waiting for him as he got off the plane.

After ten months heading up the Medical Task Force responsible for all coalition healthcare in the Iraqi Theatre of Operations, Utica native and Fort Bragg transplant Lieutenant Colonel Tony Lopiccolo adds real meaning to those cliches about simple pleasures.

Homecoming is special for any soldier who's spent time overseas in a combat zone. But for this married father of three sets of twins, it was especially sweet.

"When we were sitting on the plane as the plane landed at Pope Air Force Base you could hear the cheering," Lt. Col. Lopiccolo said.

Cheers from a large family that for nearly a year, had a huge void. Proof that freedom really isn't free, for soldiers, or those they leave behind.

"We would go to the beach a lot with our trailer and usually dad and I would get it ready and put it together and everything...and it was different for me because of that," said daughter Amanda Lopiccolo.

"Just the only difference was he wasn't sleeping there at night...and at night when we ate dinner, too," said Samantha Lopiccolo, another daughter.

But after a nearly 36-hour journey, a sweet homecoming at 3:30 in the morning at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

"Seeing the plane come in...then you're trying to pick him out of a group of everybody in the same uniform," said wife, Nancy Lopiccolo.

But the family made it easy for dad to pick them out of the crowd; they had the "Team LoPiccolo" t-shirts made and about 20 family members showed up at Pope Air Force Base at 3 a.m. on July 3 wearing them.

On August 10 it's back to work for Lt. Colonel LoPiccolo, but at Fort Bragg where he should remain stateside for the foreseeable future.

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