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Published December 23, 2013, 08:40 AM

Minnesota, Wisconsin soldiers return for Christmas

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — More than 140 soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard are home for Christmas.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — More than 140 soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard are home for Christmas.

The Cambridge-based 850th Horizontal Engineers Company has returned from building roads and clearing mines over the last eight months in Afghanistan.

Family and friends gathered at Cambridge-Isanti High School Sunday to welcome them home, according to the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/JjRIyt )

"You guys did an outstanding job," First Sgt. Jeffry Taylor told the unit. "Now we are home and your families are waiting."

The soldiers hail from about 100 towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The crowd cheered as the soldiers in tan khaki uniforms and hats filed into the gym. Outside, a huge American flag waved amid light flurries.

"Your our Hero" read one sign held by 6-year-old Layla Saline. The other read: "Welcome Home Daddy. I Love You."

Sgt. Terry Saline, 38, scooped up his daughter and hugged and kissed her and his wife, Jennifer. Then he hugged his six older children.

"I felt like I was 16 again and going to the prom," Saline said. "It felt so good; words can't describe it."

Taylor said the company had no casualties or serious injuries, although one soldier suffered a concussion after an explosive device went off near his armored vehicle.

Their company often was shelled with mortars or fired upon, Taylor said. Accompanying infantry or cavalry units provided protection and dealt with the Afghan rebel attackers.

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