February 10, 2018 10:47 PM
State leaders welcomed home troops from Minnesota's National Guard Saturday morning, while dozens of other troops are preparing for deployment.
"I really enjoy seeing my wife's lovely face (and) I enjoy seeing my children's faces," said Staff Sgt. Fred Stauffer, who returned home from deployment.
On Saturday, state leaders including Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar thanked all of them for their service at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"For some of you, this is your first deployment and I want you to know how grateful we are for your service," Smith said.
Klobuchar added, "A number of them have come home and their families are rejoicing, and at the same time you have people that are leaving and their families are a little scared and sad."
In a few weeks, 39 soldiers from the 347th Regional Support Group will deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel for a nine month tour. Sgt. First Class Eric Pearson has done this before, but it's his first time with kids.
"Now we have two daughters, we have a three year old and a one year old, so it will be a little bit different," Pearson said. "They're getting to that nervous stage, but they're ready for daddy to go off and do his job."
Saturday also meant a homecoming for three other Minnesota National Guard units from Kuwait, Romania and Cuba.
"Thankfully they have these programs like we're here for today to help get reintegrated into the home life," said Henry Gibney, with the National Guard.
As the soldiers prepare for different transitions, one thing they have in common is they're proud to serve their country.
"People take care of each other, which is the best part," Pearson said. "That's why you can go into these things and not have to worry about home."
Updated: February 10, 2018 10:47 PM
Created: February 10, 2018 12:01 PM
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