Posted: Mar 14, 2013 7:23 PM by Angela Douglas - MTN News
Updated: Mar 14, 2013 7:24 PM
BILLINGS - This month more than 200 soldiers with the Montana Army National Guard have returned to U.S. soil after serving overseas for nearly a year.
The soldiers have made many sacrifices in the past several months, but so have their families.
It was the morning of April 17, 2012 when more than 100 Montana soldiers loaded up for their deployment to Afghanistan at Edwards Jet Center in Billings.
Their loved ones stood on the tarmac, waving goodbye as they prepared for a year without them.
While the Montana Army National Guard's 484th Military Police Company assisted in the training of the Afghan National Police, their families celebrated holidays and milestones without them.
Now, nearly one year later, those soldiers are coming home.
"It's a huge weight off my shoulders," said Rachel Bakken, with a smile. "It's exciting, just to spend time together is what I'm looking forward to. I'm ready for him to be home."
Bakken is married to Specialist Jeremy Bakken and has spent the past year working and raising their 1-year-old son.
Joey Henry, the mother of Specialist Macon Henry, is also eagerly anticipating the arrival of the unit.
"Just seeing his face," Henry said. "I haven't seen his face since the day he left, so I just want to squeeze his cheeks."
Their soldiers called and emailed regularly, but despite those weekly conversations it has been a year of non-stop worrying for these military families.
"It takes a lot of strength. I didn't realize how much strength it would take," admitted Henry. "You're scared and you don't know. It's the unknown. But you have to be proud of them and just trust in their strength and their strength, and get through it."
It's been tough but I would do it all over again, just as long as he came home safe," the young mother said.
And now that the soldiers will be home safe this weekend, Bakken is ready to share the parent role.
"He'll probably be a stay-at-home daddy for a while and I'm OK with that," Bakken said with a laugh.
The 484th is scheduled to arrive at Edward's Jet Center in Billings on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, the 260th Engineer Company out of Miles City arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas this week. The unit will be returning to Montana in about 10 days.