SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Thursday, the families of nearly 200 soldiers welcomed their heroes home following a ten month deployment in the Horn of Africa.
It was an afternoon of hugs, tears and happiness at Augustana University’s Elmen Center as soldiers returned home to their families.
“It’s a little overwhelming, it’s pretty, it’s just amazing,” Sergeant Melanie Caudle said. “It’s amazing to see everybody, very happy to see the support of everybody, just a little overwhelming right away, but great.”
Loved ones reuniting, friends coming together and parents coming home to their children.
“I feel really excited and happy. It’s just really exciting. I’m glad to have her home,” Kennedy Kamps, Melanie’s daughter, said.
The 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade was in Djbouti, Africa, for ten months. And, a lot can happen in that time.
“It’s great, I’m here with my daughter who I just met for the first time and my wife,” First Lieutenant Andrew Hanson said. “My wonderful, beautiful wife.”
“It’s great, I get to meet my daughter for the first time,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Goodwin said.
Multiple soldiers in this unit came home to babies born while they were overseas.
“It just feels so great, I’m so happy. I don’t have words,” Amy Hanson, Andrew’s wife said.
“It’s a relief, I’m happy. No better feeling,” Beth Goodwin, David’s wife said.
Now these soldiers are looking forward relaxing and having family time.
“A lot of time with family and friends, reuniting with the kids and wife,” David Goodwin said.
“We’re going to my father’s on Saturday and then Sunday we’ll probably just hang out at the house and enjoy each other and be, you know, be a family for the first time, you know,” Andrew Hanson said.
Families together just in time for the fourth of July.
Governor Kristi Noem, Senator John Thune and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke at today’s ceremony welcoming them home.