Welcome home, soldiers: Charlie Battery troops return from Kuwait
It was a homecoming to remember.
After nearly a year of communicating with his wife and loved ones only through letters, phone calls and e-mails, Josh Brummond of Alexandria had the chance to hug them Saturday.
He was among the 120 soldiers from the 1-151 Field Artillery "Charlie" Battery that returned to Minnesota Saturday.
Most of the soldiers were from the Morris-Ortonville area where a big welcome home ceremony took place at the University of Minnesota, Morris PE Center.
There were at least a couple of Alexandria area soldiers in the mix - Brummond and Chad Lorenzen, also of Alexandria.
The Charlie Battery was deployed for about a year, running convoy security missions in Kuwait and Iraq.
Because of security issues, Brummond wasn't able to talk a lot about the missions, other than the fact that some of them were long - the equivalent of going from Chicago, Illinois to Bismarck, North Dakota and back.
The time away from his family and his wife, Karla, whom he married just over a year ago, was tough, Brummond said.
"It was my second tour so I kind of knew what to expect," he said. "Missing families and friends is the hardest."
But there are little things he missed as well, like running water. Water was hauled in every day for the troops but they had to conserve it, limiting showers to three or four minutes.
"There were a lot of little things like that to miss," Brummond said. "Having your own bathroom, sleeping in your own bed, the freedom to go downtown and do something."
He also missed the sights back home - the green grass and trees. In fact, one of the first things he did when he got back was to go golfing.
The "little things," however, paled in comparison to the more important things Brummond experienced when he returned home.
The soldiers, traveling by bus from Wisconsin, were escorted back home by county sheriff departments, police officers and the Minnesota Patriot Guard. The unit from Alexandria joined the escort just outside of Sauk Centre and led them into Morris.
People in downtown Morris cheered their arrival. The soldiers were also greeted by firetrucks, flags and yellow ribbons.
The Charlie Battery rolled on to the Morris Armory for a closed-to-the-public reunion with family members. After that, they went to the PE Center for more "welcome home" festivities.
"It was amazing - something you'll only experience once in a lifetime," Brummond said.
What does he remember the most?
"Coming around the corner [toward the armory] and seeing my wife standing outside with my mom and younger sister," Brummond said.
What does he plan to do next?
"I have 50 days of vacation," said. "Time to relax, go find a job and get back to civilian life."