WEST BEND -- 30 Wisconsin Army National Guard soldiers from two aviation units in West Bend were welcomed home Thursday, September 13th.
The soldiers are members of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment and Detachment 1, Company B, 248th Aviation Support Battalion.
The soldiers just completed a year-long mobilization in Kosovo, where they were responsible for supporting the NATO Kosovo Force medevac mission and staff the headquarters, life and maintenance units.
Five soldiers with the 82nd Agribusiness Development Team joined the soldiers in the welcome home ceremony. A large portion of this team was welcomed home on Tuesday, September 11th.
The aviation Soldiers — who left Wisconsin Sept. 24 of last year for about two months of training at Camp Atterbury prior to deploying to Kosovo in November — are the first wave of Wisconsin National Guard members to return from Kosovo.
Jody Brandt was one of many eagerly anticipating the soldiers' return Thursday afternoon. Brandt's husband, Dirk was deployed before the birth of their son, Owen, but was allowed to come home for Owen's birth.
The family's plans for Dirk's first day home included: "Just going to hang out and relax and enjoy family time once again, and have him get to know and play with Owen, and then Sydney is excited. She has a list of things she wants to do with Daddy," Jody Brandt said.
Little Owen had a surprise for Daddy -- who had never seen him walk in person.
"To see it first hand is pretty touching," Dirk Brandt said.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was among leaders who greeted the soldiers upon their return.
"I wish every troop could come home, but I don't make the rules. I just follow them at this point. After 21 years, I know where my role is in the military," Gov. Walker said.
As some National Guard soldiers are welcomed home, the Red Arrow Brigade, with National Guard units in 32 Wisconsin communities, has been notified it could be deployed next summer.
Wisconsin National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie says the notice gives the unit access to federal funding for additional training and is not an official deployment order. The 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, nicknamed Red Arrow, is the largest unit in the Wisconsin National Guard with about 3,400 soldiers.