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45th Infantry comes home to warm welcome

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NORMAN, Okla.—Families gathered in Norman on Saturday to welcome home members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Anja Noland and her mother in-law, Judy Mathews, anxiously awaited for the return of Staff Sgt. Bill Noland, who was returning from his third tour of duty.

Anja Noland said, “There’s a lot going on in my mind. I’m just glad it’s over and that he’s coming home safe and all the other soldiers are coming home safe. It’s a relief.”

Tears flowed and were followed by kisses and hugs from friends and family.

When Staff Sgt. Noland saw his wife, he couldn’t hold back his emotions.

Sgt. Noland said, “It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s hard to explain how I feel right now.”

Since June, these servicemen and women stared down missions others would shrink away from.

About 2,200 soldiers from the 45th were deployed to Afghanistan.

Officials say a dozen more groups are scheduled to return as part of the demobilization process.

Sgt. Noland said, “Can’t wait for everyone to get back here. It’s a pretty rough road for other soldiers and I’ll be glad when they all get back home.”

Noland says he has been looking forward to the small things we often take for granted.

“Grass, trees, family, kids, you know, Wal-Mart,” he said.

While the soldiers were happy to come back home, many reflected on the 14 lives lost in the 45th since July.

In addition to greeting their families, many soldiers sent warm messages to the Oklahoma families who lost loved ones.