Families, Friends Welcome Oklahoma 45th Infantry Soldiers Back Home

Saturday, March 17th 2012, 9:58 pm
By: News 9

Nearly 1,000 people, families, friends, and loved ones, packed into the stands Saturday to welcome back their heroes to Oklahoma.

They could hardly sit still, their red, white and blue signs and flags ready to welcome home two groups of the 45th Infantry Brigade, over 260 soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Even former Dallas Cowboys and University of Oklahoma Coach, and Army veteran, Barry Switzer was on hand to give the "welcome home" address.

"My whole life I've been part of a team," Coach Barry Switzer told the troops. "We support one another and love one another."

3/17/2012 Related Story: Families, Former OU Coach Greet Returning Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers

Fourteen soldiers, however, did not come home with the 45th. Those soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.

Prayers and standing ovations were given, as families of the fallen members were recognized and embraced by their National Guard family. They came to the homecoming ceremony today to support their troops.

"I'm so excited and nervous and happy and sad," wife Liz Aduddell said.

"The day after I left, that's when she took off, she could walk on her own. And I missed it," Sgt. Bobby Conn said about his 18-month-old baby girl, Ava, taking her first steps.

It's a little bittersweet for some soldiers, seeing their families and little ones and realizing they've missed milestones and their better-halves.

"I don't know how to put it into words," Sgt. Conn's wife said.

The love could really be seen throughout the crowd Saturday.

"Phenomenal! She's grown so much in a year! I'm beside myself. It's good to see family," Sgt. Eric Auddel said. 

Lt. Col. Major Deering says it may take a little practice, time and TLC to get soldiers back into "daddy-shape." But all these hugs and kisses were already proving to be a sweet victory for so many.

3/16/2012 Related Story: Two Groups Of 45th Infantry Soldiers Return To OKC This Weekend

WEB EXTRA: Click here to watch the video of a soldier surprising his children as he returned home Saturday.