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Soldiers return home after nearly 1 yr. in Afghanistan

Updated: Sunday, March 10 2013, 10:12 AM EDT
Soldiers return home after nearly 1 yr. in Afghanistan story image
PORTAGE (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A 10-month mission for more than 160 Michigan Army National Guard soldiers came to an end Saturday. The Kalamazoo 507th Engineer Company landed back home.

Clearing roadways, building bridges and disarming nearly 200 IED’s over an area the size of Wyoming. It took nearly a year to get to the end of this long journey.

City and state leaders helped loved ones get to this moment: finally knowing their soldier is safe and sound.

Others, like Amanda Weeks had no idea her boyfriend Josh was able to make it, let alone propose.

"I still don't know what to think im dreaming right now I’m really blessed," said Weeks, MI Army National Guard Soldier.

"Oh its awesome tears of joy it’s one of those moments you can't describe," said Josh Pulsifer, Fiancée.

Though many have gone through ceremonies before, it means just as much to those families who have a lot of catching up.

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PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – After nearly a year in Afghanistan, 165 soldiers will be home in Michigan Saturday afternoon.

Newschannel 3 first introduced you to the 507th Engineer Battalion of Kalamazoo, with the Michigan Army National Guard, before their deployment in May of 2012.

Now the families of local soldiers say they’re excited and anxious for the return of their loved ones.

"Oh I’m just a bundle of nerves," says Scott Deyoung, whose son Michael is returning home with the troop. "I can't wait for him to get back in. It's going to be a huge hug fest and massive tears. I can see it now."

"It’s been a long year," adds Michael Deyoung’s grandmother, Ellie Cooley. "We said our goodbyes last May and he gave me a big hug and said, ‘Grandma, we have a date when I get home.’ And when I walked away, I didn't dare turn around and look back. I was crying all the way out."

While in Afghanistan, the 507th Engineer Battalion neutralized 200 improved explosive devices, cleared nearly 50 miles of main supply routes and trained hundreds of Afghan Army combat engineer soldiers.

They will return home with many awards, including three Purple Hearts, nine Combat Action Badges and 32 Bronze Star Medals.

Their Welcome Home Ceremony will be held at 3:30pm at Portage Central High School on Saturday.
Soldiers return home after nearly 1 yr. in Afghanistan
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