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|Soldiers Welcomed Home in Henry County
|"I had no idea how long a year was." Those were the words of a Kewanee woman who was waiting for her fiancee to return to the Henry County area from serving overseas.
Kelly Kreis waited with her sons for the return of her fiancee Sergeant Eric Smith, who was part of a group of soldiers who were welcomed home with members of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat team of the Illinois Army National Guard to Galva Thursday.
Jo Smith, Eric's mom, says it was a very hectic year with her son leaving behind his family and his children aged 2 though 12.
Jo Smith tells WGIL the day has been a buildup of emotions over a year's time.
"Today is marvelous. We just haven't been able to wait for the day. It couldn't come any sooner. We are so excited and so proud of all the guys in the unit and can't wait for the second group to come home."
Other members from the unit are said to be coming home in another month or so.
Kreis was there with her children and other family members holding signs and cheering the group as they returned to the Armory.
Kreis tells WGIL everyday things made her miss her fiancee even more.
"You know, just sitting together, dinners, movies - just about anything. He was my best friend and fiancee so you really miss a lot. It's not the big things, it's the little things."
Hundreds of people gathered to welcome their family and friends back at the Galva Armory. School children from Galva Elementary School lined the street with flags and signs as a marching band played while those who attended applauded the services of those who can now be back with their families.
After hugs and kisses with his family, Sgt. Eric Smith says troops tried to keep busy as to not miss home too much. He says he watched last year's Super Bowl seven times.
Sgt. Smith already had plans for the first thing he was going to do when he got home - take off his uniform.
(Kaleb, 10, and his brother Kody, 8, of Kewanee, show off their signs as they wait for their dad, Sgt. Eric Smith to return to Galva Thursday.)
(Families and friends of soldiers await their arrival to the Galva Armory Thursday.)
(The first soldiers step off the bus to cheers and applause as they returned from a year long deployment with the Illinois Army National Guard.)
(Troops from the Illinois Army National Guard greet those who gathered to welcome them home from Afghanistan.)
(Members of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team receive their dismissal orders Thursday in Galva.)
(Sgt. Eric Smith of Kewanee talks to his son after being away from home for a year.)
(Sgt. Eric Smith hugs his family Thursday in Galva after returning home from Afghanistan.)
(A family poses for a portrait in front of a banner made after troops returned home to Galva Thursday.)
(Inside the Galva Armory, as families and friends welcomed home loved ones who had been serving overseas with the Illinois Army National Guard for over a year.)
(WGIL News Story and Photos by Dominic Fortini.)
|08 20 09 by Newsroom
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