BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - The last of 2,700 Minnesota National Guard Red Bulls deployed to Kuwait a year ago are returning home this weekend.
A plane carrying about 100 soldiers landed at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport around 9:30 Saturday morning.
Shortly after getting off the plane, Col. Eric Kerska, the Commander of the 1st Brigade 34th Infantry said, "The folks from Minnesota really need to be proud of what their soldiers accomplished."
Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesperson for the Minnesota National Guard said, "They had a very important mission they were responsible for securing the convoys and securing the base."
As part of their mission, the soldiers helped safely escort the remaining 40,000 U.S. troops out of Iraq just before Christmas.
Kerska said, "The 18th of December was a big day for the brigade because the looks on the faces, when that last convoy crossed and we all made it out safely and we got all those soldiers home, all 40,000 soldiers, home by Christmas, that was a big deal for the guys."
He continued, "The brigade did great. It was an extremely complicated mission, lots of moving pieces, lots of danger."
Everyone is coming home safe.
Four coach busses took the soldiers from the airport to armories in Bloomington and Anoka, into the arms of their families.
As Ruth Klick waited for her husband, Sgt. Don Klick to get to the Bloomington armory, she said she was, "Jittery, nervous, excited."
The busses pulled up in Bloomington around 10 a.m. and the troops stepped off to get their homecoming hugs and kisses from loved ones who were so glad they were home safe.
Sgt. Brian Rinehart's daughter Alita cried big tears as she hugged her dad.
This was his third deployment. With Alita, his infant daughter Rylie and wife Amanda by his side he said, "I'm like shaking. Still, I'm happy for the girls, happy for the both of us, just to get back into a routine now."
Alita said, "I missed my daddy very much."
It was the first deployment for Sgt. Don Klick. He was coming home to his wife and three kids and said, "I got to see them at times on Skype but this is so much better."
Major Matthew Heffron now gets to know the daughter born while he was away. His wife Erica Heffron said, "Yeah, we had some rough times but we made it and we're very happy to have him home, very proud of him for going."
The Heffrons have a three and four-year-old too. So he may be ending his military assignment but it looks like his kid chasing duties have just begun.
Major Heffron said it's, "Great to be back home to them."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)