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Utah National Guard members return from Middle East tour

Posted at 10:24 PM, Nov 09, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — After nearly a full year deployed in the Middle East, 24 soldiers with the Utah National Guard are back home.

They arrived at Salt Lake City International Airport Tuesday afternoon and were greeted by dozens of family members, friends and colleagues.

“I’ve been away for 11 months, and it's so nice to be home. It's so nice to see your family,” said Sgt. Alina Rodriguez. “The hardest part is not being able to help, and when you have little kids, not being there for them.”

She was greeted by her husband Jareth Aranda, who came to the airport with a welcome sign and 70 roses.

“I don't think I can remember being away more than a couple of days,” Aranda said. “This was a tough year.”

According to the Utah National Guard, these soldiers worked in intelligence and provided early detection to United States and coalition forces.

“It's great to get them home, finally,” said Capt. Caleb Bills. “They are a huge asset to our team.”

While the time apart was a sacrifice, it is one these military families are willing to make for a noble cause.

“I am proud of what she's doing,” Aranda said. “I don't know exactly what she’s doing, but I am super proud of what she’s doing for the country.”