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Soldiers Return From Afghanistan Before Christmas

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Members of the 822nd Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserve, returned to the Chicago area Friday after a year in Afghanistan. (CBS)

Members of the 822nd Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserve, returned to the Chicago area Friday after a year in Afghanistan. (CBS)

Mike Puccinelli Mike Puccinelli
Mike Puccinelli serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — Dozens of Chicago area soldiers came home Friday after a nearly year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the timing makes it a December to remember.

As soon as the busses carrying the members of 822nd Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserve, pulled into the armory in Arlington Heights, the kids started running. And their parents and loved ones started screaming.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

It’s a moment they’d been awaiting for one nerve-wracking year.

“I can’t even describe it. It’s a wonderful day today,” said Laurie Bullock, whose son was one of those coming home.

More than 150 members of the 822nd have been in Afghanistan taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom.  And now finally they’re back home, safe and in the arms of loved ones.

“It’s wonderful. It’s been a long time,” said Sgt. Justin Spangler as he hugged his kids and kissed his wife.

It was a holiday homecoming repeated over and over today as brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers,  sons, daughters and loved ones reunited after ten long months…   together again…   just in time for Christmas.

The 822nd is made up of more than 80 soldiers and more than 50 military police. Members come from eight states. The company performed detention operations in the war on terrorism.

One soldier left the armory and headed right to Cleveland Elementary School in Chicago. That’s where Spc Jose Velazquez surprised his young son, who hadn’t expected to see his father until next year.

Third-grader Wesley Velazquez spotted his dad and collapsed into his arms. For two minutes, Wesley hugged his dad, refusing to let go.

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