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Maine Soliders Return Home From Afghanistan 

It was a day of relief and joy for the families of 173 soldiers who returned home Tuesday after an almost year long tour of duty in Afghanistan.Hundreds of people gathered at the Augusta Armory to say thank you and welcome home to the 1136th transportation company. Most are family members who have waited the better part of a year for their loved ones to come home. Mothers, like Deedra Langelier, waiting for their sons. “It’s like we’re missing a piece to the puzzle of our family,” she said.Robin Tilton is waiting for her son, Specialist Joshua Tilton. She says it’s been a tough year. “Just seeing things on the news and not knowing if it’s affected him or if he’s safe,” Tilton said while holding a sign welcoming her son back to Maine.Christy Verburgt has her own way of dealing with the agony of a son who’s in harms way. “It’s been rough,” she said. “The blessings come down went he prayers go up and that’s basically what we hold on to is our faith that God has been good bringing him home for the second time.”A large number of wives were on-hand waiting for their husbands, like Alice Leblanc, who’s been at home with her children, 2-year-old Julie and 1-year-old Jacob, who was 10-days-old when his father was deployed. Leblanc says these long deployments are difficult for everyone but especially when there’s kids at home. “It’s been hard because raising two small children when you’ve got both parents there is hard enough and having to do it alone, it got overwhelming.”A little after noon, all the waiting was over. For mothers like Robin Tilton it’s the moment they’ve been waiting for. To see, with their own eyes, that their sons are alright. And Specialist Joshua Tilton is equally happy to see his wife and his mother. “It’s great,” he says. “It’s absolutely great. It’s been a long year. A little stressful but it’s good to be home and get my life started back up again.”There was little doubt what these soldiers missed the most while they were away. “Family,” says Specialist James Lawler of Palmyra. “I had a baby nephew born while I was gone so this is the first time, actually seeing him for the first time.” SFC Bethany Mazzaro is also anxious to see her kids who don’t even know their mother is home yet. They think she’s coming home tomorrow. “It feels good. I’m going to the school where my kids are right now and they’re having an assembly so I’m going to surprise them. I haven’t seen them yet.” After an almost year long tour of duty in Afghanistan, some of these soldiers already have plans for their first night home. “We’re going to Margaritas!”