Official welcome home ceremony for nearly 200 Minnesota soldiers and their families

The homecoming ceremony of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade's Headquarters Company and 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion from a year-long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Kuwait and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq happened Saturday afternoon at Anoka Technical College Auditorium.

For about 200 Air National Guardsmen this was their official welcome home and a chance for politicians and people in Anoka to come out and let them know how much they appreciate their service.

Now during their time in the Middle East, the air guardsmen supported military operations in both Iraq and Kuwait. For many of these men and women it was their first deployment.

Everyone Fox 9 talked to said it was honor to serve their country and help fight the growing war on organized terror.

This was medic Cesar Garcia's first deployment and a reminder of life's priorities.

"It's great to be home and not see the sand for a while." Cesar Garcia said.

During their time in the Middle East, these air guardsmen helped support operations in both Kuwait and Iraq.

It was a task that grew in scale with the emergence of ISIS.

"Right off the bat the need to push some of our Blackhawk and medi vac up in Iraq was within the first month we were there."

Colonel Greg Thingvold says it was challenge they all embraced and before long these men and women were part of operations across the region.

"Suddenly there they are transporting hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo." Senator Amy Klobuchar called their service crucial.

Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken turned out to wish them well as they embark on a summer of well-deserved rest and recuperation.

"It's great to be home in Minnesota for a while, enjoy the outside, the trees and everything we don't have over there."