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Happy reunions: C.O. National Guard unit back home


The Bend-based 1st Squadron of the 82 nd Cavalry arrived on two planes at Roberts Field Wednesday, back home to tearful, grateful family members, 10 months after the Oregon Army National Guard Unit headed out on deployment to Afghanistan.

Who were they waiting for?

“My husband,” Amanda West said.

“Today, our grandson is coming home,” Suzanne Ackerman said.

Nearly 1,000 Oregon Guard members deployed to Afghanistan last summer, three battalion-sized elements of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team sent to provide security missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

After almost a year-long wait, they are finally home.

“It was a little hard to breathe, coming here,” West said.

“I’m just so excited!” Ackerman said.

After arriving at the airport, about 175 soldiers climbed on buses and soon arrived at the nearby Deschutes County Fairgrounds.

Family members were bursting with excitement — and soon enough, the wait was finally over.

“Feel good, it’s nice to be home finally after 11 months,” said Travis West, a returning soldier.

Finally back with their loved ones, including the young ones, who may have changed just a little bit.

“The youngest, she was just crawling — and now she’s running around talking,” West said.

And one proud grandmother was happily reunited with her hero.

“There he is!” Ackerman exclaimed.

Although technology like Skype can make the distances shrink nowadays, it was still a homecoming that brought smiles, hugs, tears and gratitude that they were back home, safe and sound.

A formal demobilization ceremony is planned May 16 at Vince Genna Stadium in Bend. More deployed Guard units are due to return home this spring and summer.

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