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September 27, 2012 06:03 PM

842nd Returns From Year In Afghanistan

Spearfish, SD

Friends and family welcomed home the 842nd Engineering Company on Thursday in Spearfish. The citizen soldiers are back after a year long deployment to Afghanistan.

The Spearfish-based company is comprised of 160 soldiers, all of whom have come back safe and sound.

Thursday afternoon, hundreds of people waited for a reunion more than 12 months in the making.  For many, the separation wasn't easy.

"Kinda sad; really sad.  I missed her a lot when she was gone," nine-year-old Addison White said.

Addison spent the last year living with a family friend while his mother served overseas.

"He just fit in like a glove, so we couldn't have imagined not taking him or having him be anywhere else," Krinda Fox said.

As the buses pulled into the parking lot, the crowd clapped and cheered for their returning soldiers. 

"It's a really great feeling.  It's really good to see everyone and be back home with all your family and friends," SPC Rockford Van Zee said.

It's a sentiment echoed by family members.

"Nothing better in the world.  It's hard to explain, but it's the best feeling that a father could possibly feel," Rockford's father, Randy Van Zee, said.

Along with all the joy and relief, people were proud of the mission the 842nd completed in Afghanistan.

"We did a lot of great things, accomplished a lot of work over there.  We had a good time, but glad to be back," SPC Van Zee said.

"You know, you kind of wait and wonder what's happening over there.  But you just keep your faith in God and, I tell you what, just really happy to see him back," Randy said.

Addison has a good idea about the first thing he wants to do with his mom, returning from a year in the Middle East.

"Probably go get ice cream," Addison said.

The 842nd spent most of its Afghanistan deployment building and maintaining roads, and bolstering defenses.

The unit was also welcomed home with parades in Spearfish, Belle Fourche and Sturgis.

  • News
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  • Rapid City, SD
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