Family, friends welcome home Utah soldiers from yearlong deployment
Nov 9, 2021, 6:09 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2021, 6:38 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Utah soldiers was given a hero’s welcome at the Salt Lake City International Airport Tuesday after a yearlong deployment to the Middle East.
The 12 men and women from the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion with the Utah National Guard were gone during some tense times in that part of the world.
The guard said they provided intelligence and early warnings to U.S. and coalition forces in the region.
Their commanding officer called them some of the most skilled and professional soldiers in the military.
“I am beyond excited,” said Lisa Nova as she waited to see her boyfriend. “It’s been a very long year.”
Jareth Aranda has been a single father of two young children during his wife’s deployment.
He sat at the edge of his seat with a bundle of red roses, anticipating her arrival.
“I’m a little shaky holding the flowers,” he said. “Felt like I was going to drop them every five seconds.”
Stephanie Lyon also couldn’t hold back the excitement as she waited for her boyfriend.
“I am just elated,” she said. “Words cannot describe how excited I am. It is a long time.”
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Finally, the moment arrived and the soldiers came walking through the automatic doors.
All wore civilian clothing.
They chatted by video over the last year, but it was so much sweeter to see them in person.
“I’m just reminded how beautiful she is when I saw her again, and it just feels awesome. I hope she never goes back,” said a very happy Aranda after he embraced his wife.
He said family and friends helped out while his wife was gone.
“It’s been a growing year for all of us. And wow, I thought it was going to be the worst year of my life, but it’s been good,” said Aranda.
“I’m glad they were able to do it without me,” said Aranda’s wife, Alina Rodriquez, with a laugh. “Just happy to be home. Nice to be in a free country.”
Julia Goodale stayed home alone, tending her three young children, while her husband Justin Goodale was gone.
“Such a relief to see (the kids) with their dad again. Such a relief to have him back, that he’s safe,” said Julia Goodale.