"Like welcoming home fellow Soldiers":
[One of the] soldier[s] at the railhead, Sgt. Joseph Young, 35, of Lakewood, Calif., is a forward artillery observer by trade but ended up driving a Stryker in Iraq. It was his first experience in the Stryker after past deployments in Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees, he said.
"The Stryker was a nice upgrade. I felt safe in it most of the time," he said. "The only thing that scared us were the [explosively formed projectiles] because they made Swiss cheese of everything."
Insurgents didn’t know how to combat the Strykers, Young said.
"If you shoot at us, a remote-controlled 50-cal (machine gun) is going to point at you," he said. "If not, you will have a squad (of troopers) in your face."
Young said his Stryker had two close calls with roadside bombs, but both bombs were mistimed and neither damaged the vehicle. Small-arms fire bounced off the Stryker’s armor during combat, he said.
"When we took fire you could hear the little pings. I felt really secure inside," he said.
The Strykers were also comfortable with air-conditioners, heaters and a sound system that played heavy metal band Metallica, Young said.
Seeing the Strykers back in Vilseck was like welcoming home fellow soldiers, he said.
"[A Stryker] is a part of you. You can rely on it. It will always get you home and if not you have your buddies’ Strykers who will help you get back," he said.