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      Returning soldiers receive hero's welcome during homecoming celebration

      Members of the 1430th Engineer Company of the Michigan National Guard have been reunited with their families. The soldiers returned Friday after a little over a year in Afghanistan.

      Friday morning, a homecoming celebration was held for them at Gladstone High School's gymnasium. About 130 of the troops in the unit are from the Marquette/Negaunee area. They received a hero TMs welcome at the homecoming.

      The soldiers left behind parents, children, husbands, and wives.

      You can't explain that feeling either, said newlywed Hayley Roberts. I would be okay until I saw him in uniform. And it's the moment that he walks away that kills you, because it's like, I TMll see you later. It TMs very hard to deal with."

      Roberts was quick to embrace her husband, Kyle. In a year of marriage, she's seen him just about two-and-a-half weeks. He'd left after less than two days of being married.

      Our mission, our job as soldiers is to be ready to deploy, said Lt. Colonel Edward Hallenbeck. They deployed. They did their mission, and they all came home."

      Amber Dreyer of Menominee said she couldn TMt be prouder of her son, Devin Odea.

      I think it was a great experience, explains Dreyer. It was a scary experience, but a good life experience. And I would hope everybody would, at one time in their life, somehow serve the United States."

      Odea is looking ahead, and taking with him knowledge he learned in his time away.

      My last job, I worked with some electrical devices, said Odea. I'm thinking about going to college to do some work on electrical equipment."

      The unit's mission was vertical construction. They worked on renovations of buildings in support of other units.

      Officials say they won't drill for three months, so for now, they'll be enjoying well-deserved rest and relaxation.

      Thankfully, there were no casualties in the unit. Most of the troops still have at least 30 days of paid leave before they have to return to their jobs.

      They'll take part in a reintegration event at Grand Traverse Resort at the end of January.