Utah National Guardsmen Return Home From Year Deployment In Afghanistan

May 4, 2021, 5:15 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — More than a dozen Utah National Guardsmen returned home and reunited with their families after spending a year in Afghanistan.

About 15 soldiers with the 211th Aviation Regiment landed at the Salt Lake International Airport Tuesday afternoon.

“Are you ready?” said Jessica Berry to her two children. “He’s coming!”

The three of them were waiting for her husband, and the father of the two children, to finally come home.

“He’s coming any minute,” she said.

For as long as Jessica Berry has been waiting, though, a few more minutes wasn’t going to matter.

“He’s been gone 363 days. Yeah, a long time,” she said.

Her husband, David Berry, is with the Utah National Guard and has been deployed to Afghanistan for the past year.

“I’m excited. I actually feel really calm,” she said.

She wasn’t alone.

Dozens of people were at Salt Lake City International Airport, waiting to welcome home their special soldier.

There were fathers, mothers, siblings, friends, and children waving American flags and holding “welcome home” signs.

“This is my fourth time as a mom. It only gets harder,” said Jo Wayment, who was waiting for her son. “But it only gets more awesome when they come home.”

And just when they couldn’t take it anymore, the first uniformed soldier appeared and everyone cheered.

As more soldiers began walking through the door, there were hugs, kisses, and more cheers.

The long wait was now behind them.

“Hi buddy!” said one soldier to his 2-year-old son.

“Who is it?” said the boy’s mother.

“I’ve got a 1-year-old there and hoping he would remember me, but yeah, it’s exciting,” said Captain Cade Cross.

The soldiers were among the last from their battalion to return after a year of providing combat air support to ground forces in Afghanistan.

“It definitely poses some challenges, but you make it work and make the best out of it,” said Chief Warrant Officer David Berry, who is the man Jessica Berry was waiting for.

“I love you,” she said to him while hugging.

Thinking of this moment is what many soldiers said got them through the tough days.

Now, it’s about being together.

“It’s pretty good,” said Jessica Berry with a laugh. “It doesn’t feel real yet.”

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Utah National Guardsmen Return Home From Year Deployment In Afghanistan