Hundreds from Mid-Michigan turned out to welcome home members of the National Guard in Grand Ledge. But they weren't returning from a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan -- they were serving in Bosnia.
"I can't explain it. It's elating."
What Major John Koltvedt can't put into words is seeing his wife for the first time in many months.
"(It's) very hard. And I have two small children. They're two and four. I just missed him," Rebecca Koltvedt said.
John Koltvedt hasn't seen his two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter since last May.
Koltvedt's one of the 27 of the guard soldiers returning from duty in Bosnia.
They're members of the Michigan guard's two hundred thirty-eighth aviation regiment. Three of their fellow guardsmen re-upped -- they remain in eastern Europe.
The Michigan troops were serving as part of an international peacekeeping force in the war-torn former Yugoslavia. It's a mission soldiers say they honored to be a part of.
"We were very proud. Very proud to do what we did," Koltvedt said.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Beck says he agrees.
"They love the Americans. They did not want us to leave. They don't want us to leave," Beck said.
Soldiers say they didn't see combat like troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have. Leaders from a local legion hall say everyone from the regiment's mission to bosnia is still alive. But the guardsmen hope folks back home remember -- troops serving in eastern Europe and elsewhere are putting their lives on the line for their country, too.
"You've got a couple thousand actually in Kosovo. Some of those are from here in Michigan at this facility. I don't know if people really know that," Koltvedt said.
And while they're aware of their service to country -- and mindful of their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serving around the world -- most say -- now they can focus on other things in their lives, too.
"My son is three. He's grown a lot. I'm anxious to get to know him again," Koltvedt said.
-- in Grand Ledge, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.