Coming home: South Dakota soldiers return to their loved ones

National News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The families of nearly 200 soldiers welcomed their heroes home on Thursday following a 10 month deployment in the Horn of Africa.

It was an afternoon of hugs, tears and happiness at Augustana University’s Elmen Center as soldiers returned home to their families.

“It’s a little overwhelming, it’s pretty, it’s just amazing,” Sgt. Melanie Caudle said. “It’s amazing to see everybody, very happy to see the support of everybody, just a little overwhelming right away, but great.”

Loved ones reuniting, friends coming together and parents coming home to their children.

“I feel really excited and happy. It’s just really exciting. I’m glad to have her home,” Kennedy Kamps, Melanie’s daughter, said.

The 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade was in Djibouti, 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,” First Lt. Andrew Hanson said. “My wonderful, beautiful wife.”

“It’s great, I get to meet my daughter for the first time,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Goodwin said.

Multiple soldiers in this unit came home to babies born while they were overseas.

“It just feels so great, I’m so happy. I don’t have words,” Amy Hanson, Andrew’s wife, said.

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

Now these soldiers are looking forward relaxing and having family time.

“A lot of time with family and friends, reuniting with the kids and wife,” David said.

“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,” Andrew said.

Families together just in time for the Fourth of July.

Gov. Kristi Noem, Sen. John Thune and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke at the ceremony welcoming them home.

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