Remembering Fallen Soldiers | VideoJennifer Joas | 3/22/2013
While joy and happiness overwhelmed the crowd, it was also a bittersweet moment for many of the soldiers because they came back without two of their guys.
Among the crowd of cheering family members welcoming the soldiers home, stood Alexis Linde.
Her father, Sergeant First Class Darren Linde, was killed in Afghanistan. She says someone had to be here for her dad today.
"He`s not physically coming through the door. But he`s got a piece of him in every one of his boys. So I`m ready to see that and I`m ready for these boys. They`re like brothers to me now. They`re family for my dad, and they`re the last that he had," she said.
Since December when Sergeant Linde and Specialist Tyler Orgaard were killed, soldiers have been sending their love and support to her family from afar. They say it was tough to go on with their mission, and not see them every day. And now, it`s especially hard to come home without them.
"I would say its bittersweet. Leaving, you have full intentions of coming back and bringing everybody home with you. Not being able to bring everybody home, it good to be back but it also feels like we`re missing part of our family here right now," said platoon leader Chance Schaffner.
All of the soldiers came home with dog tags, but for two families, those forms of ID have special significance.
"He`s always with me and he`s never leaving," Linde said.
Ian Placek was injured in the same attack that killed these two soldiers, and he says they`ve never left him either.
"You`re with them day in and day out, doing everything with them, sleeping under the stars, sleeping on a cot in the middle of the desert. It`s kind of a bond that`s indescribable.
As the Linde and Orgaard families reflect on their lost loved ones, they say today is about celebrating the soldiers coming home.
"The only word to really describe this is bittersweet. It`s been a long time coming for them to come home. And it`s also going to be sad. But I`m going to put that away today because this is about the boys. This is their homecoming. And everyone should be happy," Linde said.
A formal welcome home ceremony, called a Freedom Salute, will take place in about three months to honor the Guardsmen and their families.