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CT National Guard soldiers return from Horn of Africa

By LEZLA GOODEN

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    WINDSOR LOCKS, Connecticut (WFSB) — Families are waiting for troops to return after a year after being deployed at the Horn of Africa.

A total of more than 100 soldiers from the 102nd infantry are expected to arrive around 7 p.m. on January 21.

They are returning from their mission in Djibouti and Kenya where they protected critical infrastructure and trained with partner forces.

Lindsay Balesano said, “I am seeing my fiancé for the first time in 317 days and Quinn is seeing her dad and she hasn’t seen him in a long time since she was three weeks old.”

One of the soldiers is the fiancé of Balesano and dad to 11 month old Quinn.

She says they created a paper chain countdown for his return and have found unique ways to keep him close.

“He recorded something for her that I play every morning, he says ‘good morning Quinn, Daddy can’t wait to see you!’ Every single morning I play it for her. She knows that video”

Baby Quinn brings a piece of her dad everywhere.

“I have a polaroid that she carries too of him just cause I know in this day and age we can facetime but it’s just nice to have a picture she can hold onto,” said Balesano.

Other families shared similar emotions when asked what it means to have their loved ones back in their arms.

Marisol Falkenstein said, “it’s overwhelming and emotional at the same time just because our family has been waiting so long.”

CT National Guard Major David Pytlik said, “this is one of the busiest deployment years for the National Guard in about 10 years. 102 was in the Horn of Africa and they acted as quick reaction force and protecting important infrastructure like ports and airfields.”

Pytlik shares that the soldiers have been pre- tested for COVID and all will be wearing masks inside.

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