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Friends and family welcome home soldiers

By Emily Allen, Multimedia Journalist /Target 13 Investigator , emily.allen@krdo.com
Published On: Jan 13 2013 11:53:33 PM CST

Friends and family welcomed home 17 soldiers at Butts Army Airfield on Sunday. The 17 members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment finished a year-long deployment in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

FORT CARSON, Colo. -

Friends and family welcomed home 17 soldiers at Butts Army Airfield on Sunday. The 17 members of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment finished a year-long deployment in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The battalion supported International Security Assistance Forces in the Daykundi, Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces.

Specials Michael DeMattee waited 201 days to hug his 7-month-old son Rocco.

"He's got to get used to me all over," said DeMattee.

DeMattee said it's tough being a military dad. He described his reunion with his son as "emotional."

"I just want to take time out and hug my baby," said DeMattee.

DeMattee's comrade Staff Sgt. Mervin Slagle agreed. He's only spent 30 days with his son since he's been born.

"I've been deployed plenty of times and it's never, this is the roughest one, you know having to see your kids grow up through video-internet chatting and emails and pictures, it's hard."

Slagle's wife, Estrella, is in the military as well. She was deployed shortly after their three-year-old daughter was born. He raised their daughter and with their son, it was her turn. She said it wasn't easy raising two kids when she was still learning how to be a mom.

"It's been crazy, I wasn't here for any of her growing up so I didn't know what I was doing so it was really crazy," said Estrella.

DeMattee's wife couldn't wait for her husband Michael to return home.  She said Skype has helped keep her family connected, but it still wasn't the same.

"I think [the hardest part was] not having him physically here for the support. He was always available email, Skype when he could, just not having him here physically."

Slagle said while it was challenging, the moment of seeing his family reunited again made it all worth it.

The battalion's remaining 134 soldiers are expected to arrive at Fort Carson at 7 p.m. on Monday.

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