OWATONNA, Minn. (KEYC) — Families reunited Wednesday at the Owatonna National Guard Training Center after 11 months apart.
Members of the Minnesota National Guard returned home from their 11-month tour in Africa. The emotional scene was filled with smiles, hugs and tears from family members.
“It has been very emotional. It has been a long 11 months,” parent of returning soldier Chris Fossom said. “When he’s not in the United States, and he’s in a foreign country, it’s been tough. We are very happy to have him back.”
The group of soldiers was stationed to help with security at bases in multiple places in the Horn of Africa. They began their training at Camp Ridley in Texas last June and then left later that summer for their deployment. The 2nd Battalion 135th Infantry Division teamed up with multiple countries’ forces to help them in their mission.
The soldiers kept in contact with their families to try and keep a piece of home with them.
“They really helped me through this,” Spc. Cole Fossom said. “Getting to talk to them every day and seeing their faces on FaceTime really helped and getting to talk to them really helped me through it.”
The events were filled with mixed emotions of excitement, happiness and disbelief as the soldiers returned home. Some are just excited to get their lives going again.
One soldier even left wedding plans up to family and is ready to move forward.
“Just starting my life over again,” Sgt. Haley Miller said. “Getting married, I am getting ready for that next chapter.”
Some emotions were a little more simple.
“We couldn’t be happier, couldn’t be happier,” Chris Fossom said.
The crowd was filled with families, all proud of their soldiers for what they had gone through over the months.
“I am so, so very proud of her. I mean, I cannot say that enough,” parent of returning soldier Kris Miller said.