MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dozens of Minnesota National Guard members returned home to their families on Saturday.
About 80 members of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, or the Red Bulls, were greeted by hundreds of friends and family.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: 21 More Deaths Reported; State's Now Seen 40K Hospitalizations
The soldiers spent the last 11 months overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Kuwait, and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.
The Red Bulls helped with aviation and security operations against militant groups in Iraq and Syria, as well as other duties.
Pat Holcomb’s goddaughter was deployed overseas.
“There’s just fear every day, and even if they’re not in a combat zone, it’s still fear,” Holcomb said.
Military families know reunions aren’t just about celebrating a reconnection; it can also be reminder of what they’ve missed.
“I wasn’t going to cry, and then you cry, anyways,” Spc. Hailey Benson said.READ MORE: Beach Boys Bringing Holiday Harmonies Tour To Treasure Island
For Benson and her sister, Natalie Warner, distance made the death of their mom even more difficult.
“It’s been really, really hard. It’s been really lonely, and it’s going to be a whole new thing with her here to process everything,” Warner said.
And then there’s Nicole Glenn, a mother of five.
“He’s missed all kinds of stuff, but, you know, it’s just part of marrying a soldier,” Nicole Glenn said.
She gave birth to her youngest — 10-month-old Evan — two weeks before his dad, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Glenn, was deployed.
“Last time I saw him he was little,” Michael Glenn said. “When I left, he was a week old.”
Reunited in dad’s arms, Evan won’t remember the year apart, but for Chief Warrant Officer Glenn, this will be a homecoming celebration he won’t forget.
“Blessings,” Michael Glenn said. “Glad to be home.”MORE NEWS: Bemidji Police Seeking Public's Help Finding 2 Missing Teenagers
The remaining 130 soldiers will return home next week.