Owosso welcomes home Michigan National Guard soldiers - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Owosso welcomes home Michigan National Guard soldiers

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    Thursday, January 23 2014 6:43 PM EST2014-01-23 23:43:36 GMT
    (01/23/14) - Thursday, members of the 144th Police Company of the Michigan National Guard were welcomed home at Owosso High School. One soldier's plan to surprise his mother at the ceremony backfired;
    Thursday, members of the 144th Police Company of the Michigan National Guard were welcomed home at Owosso High School.
OWOSSO (WJRT) -

(01/23/14) - There was a welcome home celebration, Thursday, for members of the 144th Police Company of the Michigan National Guard.

The unit was deployed to Afghanistan nine months ago.

Hundreds of people packed Owosso High School to welcome the soldiers home.

There was a lot of emotion as people hugged their loved ones, and a lot of community support as people watched and waited for their safe return.

People made posters that said, "Welcome Home" and some soldiers were seeing their newborn babies for the first time.

One woman told us that she and her husband got married two days before her husband was deployed to Afghanistan.

The day was a special time for soldiers and their families.

"Excited to be home finally back home with my family and my friends. We've been married for almost five years now. This is the first for her, I've been deployed many other times, but it's the first time being deployed with having a wife and kids at home," said Edward Turner.

"I wanted to run to him. I feel complete now that he's home and we can be a family. I'm glad this last nine months is over with," said Amanda Burns, whose husband returned home.

It's been almost one year since Bobby Johnson has been able to do the small things, like put on his daughter's coat. It's something he's not taking for granted.

"It was wonderful, being able to see her be so happy. Talking to her on the phone, she didn't understand but now she knows daddy's home," he said.

It's the second time Johnson has been deployed.

These soldiers say the feeling of reconnecting with their families is exactly how they hoped it would be.

"It's amazing. You don't know what to expect because you've been gone for so long. They're so young, you don't know what to expect so when I come home and I see happy's, cheer's dadda, really warms my heart," Johnson said.

"It's just really a great experience because when he left for the first time, I was really young and I never really knew what was going on that much and it's just been hard," said Caleb Johnson, Bobby's son.

For some, it's like a weight has been lifted of their shoulders.

"You just sleep better. I don't have diaper duty, I can just breathe, I can go to the store and the little things that you just take for granted when you're a single parent and your heart is halfway around the world," said Bobby's wife, Brandie Johnson.

Some are seeing their family members for the first time. One soldier has waited long enough to connect with his niece, who was born while he was deployed.

"Means everything, a new part of my family. My little Kennedy," said Keaton Dyke.

Many families told us that the first thing they're going to do when they get home is just sit on the couch and enjoy each others company.

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