National Guard members return from Afghanistan

By Sherea Harris

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There were tears and hugs Friday at a welcome home celebration for 60 members of the Alabama Army National Guard. The Company B, 1-169th Aviation Unit was reunited with family and friends after serving a year in Afghanistan.

For the past year, Staff Sergeant Brad Gallant has been communicating with his wife and two sons through skype. This was his 2nd deployment and he's following in the footsteps of family. His wife Suzette says she fought back tears of joy at the ceremony.

"It's the fact of actually being able to physically see him," said Suzette Gallant. "It's the emotion of their finally going to be back."

Brad Gallant said, "Feels wonderful to be back, enjoy freedom we have here... seeing my children smiling, my wife's face."

While the soldiers were honored for their service and commitment, the ceremony also recognized the military families who reunited with their loved ones.

"What you don't know is, unless you've been in the position as my wife can attest and my son, is when you've lived without that solider for a year as a family, you sacrifice even more than the solider does," said  LTC Johnny Bass with the Army National Guard.

The soldiers fly what's known as a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter.

Army officials say it's the largest helicopter in the U.S. Army. The soldier's duties were to carry equipment, cargo, and take soldiers to combat assaults.

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