As 200 troops return home, 29 others prepare to deploy

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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) -- At the same time as some troops were being welcomed home, others were preparing to depart.

After nearly a year of service defending the skies of our nation's capitol, 200 members of the 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment were welcomed back at the Bismarck airport on Saturday.

Dozens of family and friends were there to greet them with hugs and tears of joy.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Kieth Pic and 28 other members of the 191st Military Police Company will be going to Afghanistan within the month. The troops will provide security for NATO representatives and other dignitaries in the region for about a year.

"I'm very excited. We've been training for this for the last year, and I'm really, really happy to represent the North Dakota Army National Guard." Pic said.

Hundreds turned out Saturday for the sendoff, including several state leaders.

"We have to recognize that we are putting people in harm's way and we need to find a way to end this war on terror so that we don't have to keep doing that," said Sen. John Hoeven.

"There's a reason why the community comes out, because the community wants you to know one thing: We are so grateful for your service," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

"Your sacrifice is great. It is never lost on any of us here. Certainly not lost on the community. Certainly not lost on the employers," said Congressman Kevin Cramer.

The sendoff was tearful for those being separated because of their service.

"It's hard to leave the family, but I feel that we're very prepared for this through all the training that we've done. I'm happy to be on our way, and sad that I'll be leaving my wife and kids," said Pic.

Pic will be leaving two children stateside, a 7 year old and 1 year old. The troops deploying are from more than 18 communities across the Dakotas and Minnesota.