TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A lot of happy reunions took place on Washburn University's campus Thursday.
More than 150 soldiers with the Kansas National Guard's 1st battalion, 161st field artillery were welcomed home with a ceremony in Lee Arena. Gov. Sam Brownback and Maj. Gen. Lee Taffenelli congratulated the troops on a mission well done.
The soldiers spent the past year in the Horn of Africa, helping prevent conflict in countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.
Among the many happy reunions, one specialist came home to a wife who the family joked is half the woman she used to be. Barbara George said she distracted herself during her husband's absence by losing 165 pounds. While she says she did it mainly for her health, she says going to the gym was a way to stay busy - and she stayed motivated by thinking of the big surprise she'd be giving her husband, Spc. Ronald George.
While Barbara did send Ronald pictures of her progress, the couple said it was exciting to see in person. Ronald says it's not just seeing his wife that makes it good to be home - they also have a grandchild on the way.
This is the first of three groups from the unit serving in Africa. The others are expected home soon as well.