AVOCA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Home for the holidays. Hundreds of members of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 109th Infantry Battalion are home after serving nine months in the Middle East.
It was an emotional day as the soldiers were reunited with their loved ones here in NEPA, just in time for the holidays.
Around 200 Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers touched down at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Wednesday afternoon.
They’re back on home soil after a nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
“Our soldiers, all of them, are so dedicated to the mission that they have but the people that really don’t get recognized enough are the families, and we’re just to thrilled to reunite these soldiers with their families, their neighbors their friends, and it’s great to have them back in Pennsylvania,” said Major General Mark Schindler of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Captain Cody Lauer’s loved one Julia surprised him at the airport with a sign and dog Cleo.
“It feels pretty good, it’ll just be nice to relax and get some decent food for once,” said Captain Lauer.
The troops boarded buses and headed to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Scranton.
It’s where hundreds of families and friends gathered to greet their soldiers.
“I didn’t realize I was gonna get a big reception but it was definitely very cool to see everybody again and just be home again,” said Lieutenant Benjamin Wilson of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
“Being away from the family is the hardest thing about being in the military, but it’s also motivation for us to get the mission done overseas and get back because this is the best. Being in the Army is amazing, but this is the best,” said Douglas Champan of the Pennsylvania National Guard
These soldiers deployed in support of Multinational Forces and Observers, an international peacekeeping organization that helps supervise the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.