Soldiers reunited with loved ones Wednesday

Desiree Followill (left) kisses Victor Boswell at the redeployment ceremony Wednesday morning.

Billie Jean Rodriguez’s husband, Sgt. 1st Class Armando Rodriguez, has been deployed 20 times over his 22 years in the military.

He has been separated from her and their two sons since August — deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Combat Aviation Brigade.

Soldiers from Demon Brigade were welcomed home by hundreds of friends and family members Wednesday from their deployment in Afghanistan during a redeployment ceremony at Marshall Army Airfield.

These soldiers spent roughly eight months overseas, away from their loved ones.

“I’m ready for these doors to open. I’m so anxious,” Billie Jean said, before the ceremony began. “I’m just ready for these doors to open.”

She was hardly the only one.

Children cried as they saw their parents safe back home for the first time in months, couples kissed, a father saw his daughter who had only been a month old when he’d left for Afghanistan.

“I’m happy he’s home — couldn’t be any happier,” Sabrina Frey said, as she reunited with her husband, Sgt. 1st Class John Frey.

Several redeployments happened Wednesday, bringing more than 500 men and women home to their families. Several more will happen in the near future as more Big Red One soldiers return from Afghanistan.

While overseas, members of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade participated in Operation Resolute Support and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. After forming Task Force Victory, the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade sent 116 helicopters.

Demon Brigade took part in hundreds of operations while deployed. Members flew almost 200 medical missions in Afghanistan, according to officials at Fort Riley.

But now they’re coming home.

The entire Demon Brigade is expected to return home by the end of the month — more than 800 soldiers.

“I appreciate the support of the families and the local communities,” Col. John Cyrulik said during the ceremony.

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