WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) – Families await the return of troops after a year of being deployed to the Horn of Africa.
A total of more than 100 soldiers from the 102nd Infantry are expected around 7 p.m. on January 21.
They are returning from their mission in Djibouti and Kenya where they protected critical infrastructure and trained with partner forces.
Lindsay Balesano said: “I’m seeing my fiancé for the first time in 317 days and Quinn is seeing her dad and she hasn’t seen him in a long time since she was three weeks old.”
One of the soldiers is Balesano’s fiancé and the father of 11-month-old Quinn.
She says they created a paper chain countdown for his return and found unique ways to keep him close.
“He recorded something for her that I play every morning, he says ‘hello Quinn, dad can’t wait to see you!’ Every morning I play it for her. She knows that video”
Baby Quinn brings a piece of her father everywhere.
“I have a polaroid she’s wearing of him too just because I know in our time we can cope, but it’s nice to have a photo she can hold on to,” said Balesano.
Other families shared similar emotions when asked what it means to have their loved ones in their arms.
Marisol Falkenstein said: “It’s overwhelming and moving at the same time just because our family has been waiting for so long.”
TC National Guard Maj. David Pytlik said, “This is one of the busiest deployment years for the National Guard in about 10 years. 102 was in the Horn of Africa and they acted as a quick reaction force and protecting important infrastructure like ports and airfields.
Pytlik shares that the soldiers have been pre-tested for COVID and will all be wearing masks indoors.
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