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A Warm Welcome for Soldiers of the 397th Engineer Battalion

The last nine months have been gutwrenching for Caroline Wasielewski. Her husband Tony has been stationed in Afghanistan, clearing minefields.

"The love you grow for one another while hes' gone...It's phenomenal."

Weekly phone calls, letters, packages...they're just not the same as having him back home in Ladysmith.

Especially during the tough times, when Caroline's huband wasn't allowed to chat about everything that went on, and she was left to imagine the worst.

"Oh my g-d, are they going to come and tell me he's in a bodybag? Did something happen?"

Monday afternoon brought an end to nine months of waiting and wondering, as well as Tony's first look at his wife, after she had shed 92 pounds.

"She looks great...She looks wonderful," Staff Sgt. Wasielewski said.

"A year is a long time, it really takes a lot out of you, but to be back with people like this...It really means a lot."

Although Tony is nearing 20 years in the service, this is the first time he had ever been deployed overseas.

That makes this reunion even sweeter for soldiers like Tony who always made their spouses part of what drove them in the Middle East.

"It was a constant topic. We exchanged stories about who had heard from their wife first," said Staff Sgt. James Schwartz, who spent time with Tony in Afghanistan.

Caroline and Tony will celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary in August, but there's a looming chance that they won't spend it together. The 397th may be mobilized once again.

"It's just time you can't change or fix, but you can make up for it," said Staff Sgt. Schwarz.


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