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DULUTH - Families gathered outside on a rainy Wednesday morning, but
what they were waiting for could never dampen their spirits.
"We've missed him a lot, he's a big part of our family; we'll be glad to have him back," Shane Urban said.
"I'm very, very proud; pretty choked up." Benny Urban said.
For the Urban family, words could not describe what it was like to know that Benny junior would be home.
"We're excited, very excited," Angela Urban said.
Benny Senior said he was proud of a son serving in the same country he did two decades ago.
"I'll make him kiss the ground like my grandmother made me," he said. "I can't wait; embarrass him in front of everybody."
And after a year of waiting, families like the Urbans watched the last few minutes tick by until the bus finally rolled in.
"We've been her waiting quite a while, but that's okay," Gladys Haugen said. More than 200 troops arrived in Duluth as well as Cloquet, Pine City and Hibbing Wednesday.
People across the Northland were excited for troops from the 1st Squadron, 94th Calvary to arrive home safely.
For the Urbans, a set of hugs 12-months in the making were finally complete. "It's good to finally be back, a long trip. It's good everybody's back safe," Benny Urban Jr. said.
After setting his sights on grass for the first time in too long, he followed his dad’s orders and kissed the ground.
For the returning troops, a kiss, or walk on Minnesota soil is all they needed for a proper homecoming.
The coming weeks will bring in multiple flights of returning troops to Minnesota.
About 2700 soldiers are a part of the Minnesota National Guard's largest deployment since World War II.