Canadian soldiers receive warm welcome home
Family and friends gathered at Halifax airport to welcome soldiers home from Afghanistan
It was an emotional evening Tuesday at Halifax Stanfield International Airport as Canadian soldiers who were serving in Afghanistan reunited with their families.
Canadian troops capped a deadly and dangerous 12-year mission in Afghanistan last Wednesday, hauling down the Canadian flag at NATO headquarters in Kabul during a ceremony that was held under heavy guard.
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The war cost the lives of 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors.
There were outpourings of joy at Halifax's airport as families were reunited after eight and a half months overseas.
Sgt. Richard Astin, who returned from his second trip to Afghanistan, said he's happy to be home with his family, including his young daughter, Kalin.
“It took my breath away, that's all it is. I was so worried she was going to run away or not recognize me, but she came right to me. I was very happy, very happy,” he said
Maj. Douglas McCarthy is originally from Codroy Valley, N.L. He was welcomed home in a tearful reunion by his mom.
“It was a pretty uncontrollable happiness, I’ve got to be honest with you," he said. "It was 269 days for me, almost nine and a half months. I'm very happy to be back."
Ninety-three soldiers were greeted by family and friends in Ottawa earlier on Tuesday.
The troops, escorted by CF-18 fighter jets, arrived at the Ottawa airport where they were greeted with a welcome ceremony that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General David Johnston, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Defence Chief General Thomas Lawson.
Lt. Col. Victor Grandy's mom Marjorie watched watched on television as her son arrived in Ottawa. She said there were mixed emotions.
“Nervous, but relieved and crying this morning when we saw him land in Ottawa,” said Marjorie Grandy.
Grandy said he feels good about Canada's work in Afghanistan.
“To see the changes in the last six years are amazing. When we were in Kandahar there were two Afghan battalions and now there's 30. The improvement in living conditions is enormous,” he said.
Now his focus is his family.
“Just huge joy, just good to be home,” said Grandy.