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Soldiers return to Sioux Falls after long deployment

July 2, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The families of nearly 200 soldiers have welcomed their loved ones home in Sioux Falls following a long deployment in the Horn of Africa.

Family members were reunited at Augustana University’s Elmen Center Thursday afternoon.

The 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade was in Djbouti, Africa, for 10 months. And, a lot can happen in that time.

“It’s great, I’m here with my daughter who I just met for the first time and my wife,” 1st Lt. Andrew Hanson said. “My wonderful, beautiful wife.”

Hanson wasn’t the only one who met his child for the first time. A number of soldiers in the unit came home to babies born while they were overseas, KELO-TV reported.

“It’s great, I get to meet my daughter for the first time,” Chief Warrant Officer David Goodwin said.

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“It’s a relief, I’m happy. No better feeling,” said Goodwin’s wife, Beth.

The soldiers say they are looking forward to some down time to relax with their families.

“We’re going to my father’s on Saturday and then Sunday we’ll probably just hang out at the house and enjoy each other and be, you know, be a family for the first time, you know,” Hanson said.

Gov. Kristi Noem, U.S. Sen. John Thune and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken were on hand for the welcome home ceremony.