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Litchfield-based unit soldiers return home

LITCHFIELD - Members of the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company were welcomed home Wednesday during a celebration held at the Litchfield Armory.

The 94 members had been deployed for 11 months, including nine months in Iraq.

"We are extremely happy to have them home," said Lt. Col. Dan Hoben, who officially welcomed the troops home and then dismissed them from duty as anxious family members and friends waited on the other side of the auditorium.

Although Gov. Tim Pawlenty wasn't able to attend the event, Hoben said in an interview that he wanted the soldiers to know that "the individuals at the top are grateful that they are home safe and grateful for the service and sacrifices that they've made."

Hoben gave special credit to the soldiers' families.

"As soldiers, they can't do what they need to do in a combat zone without the support here at home," he said. "They are a critical part of the military. We want to make sure they understand that we understand that."

Sgt. Don Ommodt, of New London, said he was eager to "pick up" where he left off with his wife, Chasity, and their five children.

"You can't make up for lost time, but we'll do our best," said Ommodt.

The Litchfield-based company provided security around their base at the Baghdad International Airport.

Among other missions, the company also provided coordination and guidance for renovation and construction of three schools, a marketplace and sanitation projects, according to a press release from the Minnesota National Guard.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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