Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in nearly a year, hundreds of Minnesota National Guard soldiers are home with their families.
As many as 215 members of the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived into town Sunday. They’re members of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division that left for Kuwait at the end of May 2011 last year. About 2,700 soldiers will be headed back to Minnesota in the next three weeks.
It was the largest Minnesota deployment since World War II.
When you have a loved one in the military, you get used to the “wait” of their return.
“Luke’s been gone since June. We miss him very much,” said Barb Laganiere, whose son returned home from Kuwait.
For Laganiere and many others, this homecoming reunion is 11 months in the making.
They lined up outside the Bloomington Armory, ready to run into the arms of their soldier. The same scene played out at nine other armories around the state as 215 Red Bull soldiers, the first round of 2,700, ended their tour of duty in Kuwait.
“Amazing, definitely amazing. I missed him more than anything. He’s my best friend,” said Breanna Robinson.
“Seriously, I’m in disbelief, right now. I can’t believe I’m home right now,” said Nathan Nielsen, who returned home from Kuwait.
In their first moments together they didn’t talk about the missed moments, from births to health scares, of the last year. Family and soldier are only looking forward to the time together.
“Feels good to be back,” said Lucas Laganiere, who returned home from Kuwait.
For Lucas, the end of his deployment is the start of a new life.
“He hasn’t seen me since he’s been gone. I got pregnant on his leave,” said Katie Treat, Laganiere’s girlfriend.
“Lucky to be back in time and help her through it, welcome our new baby,” said Lucas.
In their more than nine months overseas, the Red Bulls had no deaths or major injuries.