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Maine Army National Guard soldiers return home from a 10-month deployment in Africa

130 soldiers in the Maine Army National Guard's "B" Company left in March of last year to complete a number of missions in the Horn of Africa region.

BANGOR, Maine — Families and friends gathered at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bangor Saturday to welcome home soldiers in the Maine Army National Guard's "B" Company. 

The 130 soldiers were deployed in March of last year to provide security and complete a number of other missions in several countries in the Horn of Africa region. They were part of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a multi-state National Guard brigade headquartered in Vermont. 

Maine's soldiers were assigned under Task Force Iron Gray. This unit had roughly 1,000 soldiers from 5 states: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Colorado.

Among those eagerly waiting for the soldiers' arrival was Courtney Parker. 

"It's been the hardest 10 months ever," Parker said. 

Parker's boyfriend, Clayton, has been deployed a number of times over the years. This is the first one she has experienced and she's thankful it's his last. She said their two kids, ages 5 and 9, are missing their dad. 

"The transition was the hardest part. I think that they saw me struggling and I saw them struggling and we were just a mess for probably three months," Parker said. 

Parker said her youngest, a 5-year-old boy, doesn't quite understand where dad is.

"He's like, 'Is he gonna be home for Christmas? Is he gonna be here for my birthday?'" Parker said. 

Aaron Bradbury's family is also used to family members missing holidays and birthdays. His son and daughter both followed in their parent's footsteps. 

"Both of us have recently retired and now we're happy to see our children carrying on that legacy," Bradbury said. 

Bradbury's son, Aaron Bradbury, Jr., said they know how to support each other during these times.

"We've all been on one side or the other of a deployment so it's a pretty good support system that my family has back here," Bradbury, Jr. said. 

Many soldiers are just looking forward to getting their lives back to normal. 

David Cheney said he thinks his son is excited for, "winter sports and going to camp I think are probably two things and of course his family."

Although he said it's been more than 300 days since he's seen his son, he supports his sacrifice.

"It's very important to our country and our security that he does what he does," Cheney said. 

All loved ones there could agree, they couldn't be prouder of their soldier. 

"He doesn't get enough recognition, none of the guys get enough recognition in the military," Parker said. 

Parker said her two kids think their dad isn't coming home until March, so they planned a surprise for Sunday afternoon while getting pizza.