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Minnesota National Guard
Local Troops Return Home (video)

Austin, MN -  Emotions are running high as families gather to welcome home dozens of local soldiers

After being deployed in Iraq and Kuwait since last August, Southern Minnesota National Guard soldiers returned to Austin Tuesday afternoon

It's a moment Hunter and Pheniox Schloegel have been looking forward to for nearly a year: The day they'll be reunited with their dad, Sgt Jason Schloegel, who has been overseas for his second deployment

"They miss dad really a lot and can't wait for him to get home," said Sgt Schloegel's mom, Diane

And that moment is finally here

"It's nice to be home again I'm excited to see my little boys and finally be a part of their lives again," said Sgt Schloegel

Through tears and kisses, dozens of families welcomed their loved ones back with open arms While most are reuniting after a year apart, some are meeting for the very first time

"Amazing She's so precious," said 1st Lt Dustin McCormick

1st Lt McCormick has never seen his newborn baby girl in person before Tuesday She was born just two weeks ago

"I got to watch her on Skype online, but that was nothing compared to meeting her in person for the first time," said Lt McCormick

As the commotion started to die down, the Schloegels got ready to head home for a little family time

"I'm not sure what we're going to do Just get dad and go home and relax and visit Spend time, let the boys spend time with dad," said Diane

That sounded good to Sgt Schloegel, who is looking forward to a little rest

"Spend time with the boys, watch movies, relax," he said

The troops spent about a week in Mississippi for demobilization activities before they returned home

The welcome home ceremony was organized by Austin's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group They say celebrations like this one are essential as the troops return home

But it's not just a few people behind it This event was a community wide effort

Students from Southland Schools and Southgate Elementary made posters and banners Local color guard units were also on hand

One area veteran said it's important that the soldiers know they're appreciated

"It's just such a great feeling to have people that love and want you to come home, and greet you and tell you you've done a good job, because they have done an excellent job," said Norm Hecimovich

Many of the soldiers that returned on Tuesday were part of Operation New Dawn, which helped withdraw US military forces from Iraq

Reported by: Raquel Hellman
Email: rhellman@kimtcom
Published: 5/01 9:30 pm
Article source
http://www.kimt.com/content/localnews/story/Local-Troops-Return-Home/PPlVAvvxbE2ombKyJSp7bQ.cspx



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