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May 03, 2011 05:21 PM

Military Homecoming For SD Soldiers


Osama bin Laden's death has brought national and international praise for U.S. troops stationed overseas.  Tuesday afternoon, South Dakota welcomed home nearly 200 of those troops.

Certainly everyone's been in a patriotic mood over the past couple of days. And with the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade returning from Afghanistan Tuesday afternoon, those emotions were on full display. On a crystal clear afternoon, patriotism is present both outside and in.

"It's extremely gratifying to see how many people came out to visit us," Major Phil Stiles said.

A sea of people fill Augustana's Elmen Center to welcome home those who served overseas in Afghanistan for the past year. Yet, it was at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin where members of the 196th heard about Osama bin Laden's death.

"It definitely was right as we were transitioning," 1st. Lt. Joelle Mulder said. "So it's unexpected, but great news though."

"It feels good to be back," Lt. Col. Gary Schumacher said. "It feels even better knowing he's been taken out."

Despite the good feelings, the 196th says they haven't really had a chance to process the recent events and that they take more pride in coming home with the unit fully intact.

"There's so many other missions going on for the military," Stiles said. "It's not really in the forefront of our minds. Our mission was totally separate and we had to meet that mission."

But even they admit the country they served has changed, right as they return home.

"I guess it's a little strange that, as we're departing, a lot of things happened that we heard about," Stiles said. "Now we're on the other side of the spectrum, it's different. It's a different view over here."

Stiles says the general feeling among the 196th is while they didn't want to celebrate someone getting killed, bin Laden's death is a positive step in the War on Terror.
  • Sioux Falls, SD
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