About a dozen of the last Canadian soldiers to serve in Afghanistan were reunited with loved ones in western Manitoba this afternoon.
Thirteen soldiers who were based at CFB Shilo hugged family members and were greeted by friends and others upon landing at the airport in Brandon, Man., shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The soldiers have returned from a nine-month tour as part of Operation Attention in Kabul.
Among the 13 soldiers who landed in Brandon was Capt. Kevin Olive, who immediately noticed that his two children were much taller than they were nine months ago.
"It's hard to believe…. I left a long time ago, and it was a long journey getting back here," Olive said.
"It's a long ways away, so it's good to be home. And I see you still have winter."
The arrival of the soldiers marks the formal conclusion of Canada's 12-year mission in Afghanistan.
- Special Report: Canada in Afghanistan
- Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan: a video timeline
- Faces of the fallen: Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan
- Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson were among those who welcomed troops home at the Ottawa airport earlier on Tuesday.
Harper has designated May 9 as a national day of honour to commemorate Canada's mission in Afghanistan.