Jan 1, 2016 6:07 PM

Families eagerly greet long-awaited soldiers, home after months in the Middle East


MANCHESTER - For many New Hampshire families, the best way to start 2016 was with a big welcome home for troops arriving at the Manchester Armory who'd spent months overseas.

A second group of NH Army National Guardsmen from 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment arrived on New Year's Day, just over a week after the first wave returned before Christmas.

"We're waiting for Sgt. Ben Duval, and he's my brother so we're very very excited. It's been a long time said Tiffani Sugarman, waiting anxiously for her little brother to return home. "I'll tell him) how much I miss him and how much I love him," said first-time mom Jillian Tully.

Tully was waiting for her husband to come home to her and their first child Brooklyn. Others who waited for the buses to arrive said they were just anxious to have some guy time with their dads.

NH1 News asked Brady Coburn, "What are you going to do when he comes through the door?"

"Give him a big hug," said Coburn.

"We're waiting for daddy to come home," said Concord native Elizabeth LaFlame as she held her only months-old son, Tristan. "We are very very excited."

"Part of you is ripped out and constant fear until you know they are coming back," said Sugarman keeping her eye on the door.

Just after 2:30, the big moment finally happened as the men and women serving our country came through the doors. It was a raw and very real moment as boyfriends hugged their girlfriends, wives held on tight to their husbands and kids got to see dad for the first time in months. The soldiers were taking it all in.

"It's a good feeling, said Michael Tully as he held daughter Brooklyn. "A really good feeling; I can actually be a part of her life now."

"It's great especially when we're so use to Skype and phone calls but it doesn't do it justice," said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Duval.

Looking at his wife, he went on to say, "Finally make it home and see everyone and give her an actual hug and kiss, it means the world.

A repeat of this happy occasion comes again on Saturday morning when 100 more of the Granite State's bravest will return home to greet their families, all hoping they will never have to let go.


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