The parking lot filled with vehicles, tissues were passed around and tensions were high as people waited for the buses to arrive.
The buses contained husbands, sons and brothers from 28 Minnesota communities who had just finished an 11-month deployment in Afghanistan.
The West Central Tribune reports more than a dozen squad cars, firetrucks and EMS vehicles led the two buses full of grinning and waving soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s 849th Mobility Augmentation Company to the Civic Center in Litchfield on Tuesday afternoon.
People crowded both sides of the street and added their cheers to the blaring sirens and horns to welcome the 86 soldiers home.
When the buses arrived, the soldiers unloaded and were met with a hero’s welcome. People cheered, clapped, waved signs and made themselves known to their loved ones. The soldiers were all smiles as they saw their families and significant others in person for the first time since last July.
It was the first deployment for 78 of the soldiers. However, for being new to deployment, Capt. Matthew Jukkala said the entire group under his command did an amazing job.