Sunday, April 01, 2007

Soldiers' Angels: North Dakota National Guard Returns

Shelle, PR Director for Soldiers' Angels sent me some photos and a link to the story about the return of the North Dakota National Guard Return.

Welcome party bigger in more than one way

The last time Kent Keller came home from the Middle East, he scooped up his two little sons in his arms and held them tight.

That was 16 years ago.

There was no scooping Friday. But there were some long-awaited bear hugs.

Keller, a Gulf War veteran, returned to Bismarck on Friday from his second trip halfway across the world. He and 46 other soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard were greeted at the airport by an extraordinarily jubilant throng of about 500 family and friends. Most of the soldiers from the 188th Air Defense Artillery Security Forces unit are now back home from Afghanistan for the first time since late 2005.

They landed at about 12:30 p.m. The plane then took 62 more soldiers from the unit to Grand Forks.

Keller was the last one off the plane in Bismarck, the last one to shake hands with all the dignitaries and the last in a snaking line of his fellow soldiers. The crowd, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, whistled and yelled and waved signs as the soldiers made their way from the jetway to the terminal’s stairs. Cheers and tears flowed.[snip]

The soldiers passed the dignitaries, then the honor guard and then the mothers of three of the unit’s soldiers who were killed in action. The moms stood and applauded their sons’ fellow soldiers, holding flowers that symbolized their losses.[snip]

Soldiers' Angels Home Town Heroes Kerchiefs - ND Governor Hoeven and mothers of fallen heroes display their kerchiefs warn as arm bands

Those 500 or so happy souls waved flags and held banners of support. Almost every person wore a yellow armband, called the Hometown Hero Hanky. These were the people for whom the soldiers went to Afghanistan. And wherever the people were who protest the war, they were the ones the soldiers went for, too. And they also went for the Afghan people.

Largest crowd ever, they say.

- May no soldier go unloved
Soldiers' Angels