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Families and friends welcome home Wisconsin Army National Guard soldiers

Posted at 5:25 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 18:25:41-04

MILWAUKEE — Signs, smiles and anticipation filled a crowd ready to welcome home the Wisconsin Army National Guard soldiers.

More than 350 soldiers from the 1st Battalion 121st Field Artillery started arriving at the 128th Air Refueling Wing on Thursday afternoon.

After her daughter's nearly yearlong deployment, Brenda Heard could not wait to see 21-year-old Specialist Rachel Ellis.

"It’s been very hard. A lot of teary eyes," said Heard.

"I’m pretty overwhelmed, but I’m excited to be home, for sure. I don’t want to cry." — Specialist Rachel Ellis

Emotions that built up over months spilled over as the soldiers finally touched down in Milwaukee.

"I’m pretty overwhelmed, but I’m excited to be home, for sure," said Ellis. "I don’t want to cry."

Officials said the Milwaukee-based unit spent the last several months in six countries in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The unit conducted high-mobility artillery rocket system fire support missions for coalition and partner militaries in the region.