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Maine Guard Soldiers Return Home 

Eighty-one soldiers from the Maine Army National Guard arrived home Wednesday. The 286th Battalion had been in Afghanistan for nearly a year.They arrived in Bangor Wednesday morning on a bus from Fort Dix in New Jersey. Quite a crowd was waiting to greet them.”I’m waiting for my Daddy.””I’m really excited to see Mom. It’s been a really long time.””I’m so nervous right now. I don’t know why, but I am.””Wicked excited. It’s been a long year but we’re very happy he’s coming home and coming home safe,” says Tina Clifford. She and her 5-year-old son, Ricky, were waiting on dad, Master Sgt. Alex Clifford. They had big plans. “Lots of hugs,” Tina says. “And kisses!” says Ricky. “And Ricky’s excited to play some games,” she says. The 286th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion had spent nearly a year in Afghanistan.”And it’s great that 81 went, and 81 are coming home.”Then, it was time– those 81 soldiers walked through the door. These soldiers had been responsible for logistics in southern Afghanistan, keeping troops with food, water and supplies, led by Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Diane Dunn.”286…welcome home.”And they were dismissed.”Yeah!””I haven’t seen you for a year!””Watching her come through that door, I just didn’t want to be Army rigid. I wanted to go across that line and take hold of her,” says Ruth Jewell, Lt. Col. Dunn’s mother.”It’s surreal. It was a long ride but it was definitely worth it,” Lt. Col. Dunn says. “These guys are the heroes. They made my job so easy by their hard work and Maine work ethic they had every single day.”Soon, what had been flat Daddies became real Daddies, like Master Sgt. Randy Mosley. “He has four weeks off, yeah!” “I’m going to take my time, visit everybody and get reconnected,” he says.There was lots of catching up to do. “She has no teeth!” says Sgt. Tracey Ruhlin, looking at her niece.And lots of games to play. “OK, let’s go!” says Master Sgt. Clifford, holding his son Ricky.The soldiers will have the night to spend with their families before reporting back for processing.”Oh,” says Lt. Col. Dunn, “it’s just the best day ever.”