National Guard

An Emotional Return for Army National Guard Engineers

Hundreds of loved ones and family members waiting with signs and open arms greeted 67 combat engineers returning home from their yearlong deployments on Friday.

The 315th Engineers Vertical Construction Company, Army National Guard, worked as plumbers, carpenters and electricians in Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan.

One engineer, Sgt. Niclaus Hopkins, was able to find and surprise his wife before she could spot him.

"I'm so happy that he's back," said Angelica Hopkins before her husband landed. "I'm just ready to see him, get my hands on him, touch him in person."

"The biggest part of any deployment really, in my eyes, is leaving your loved ones behind," said Sgt. Hopkins. "Not only are you feeling that loss, but your loved ones feel it as well. So now it's time to rekindle that relationship and keep moving forward."

Sgt. Kevin de Leon took the idea of moving his relationship forward to heart, surprising his girlfriend of two years with an engagement ring.

"I saw him go down and, like, I just felt like everything was like a blur, and everything froze," said the newly engaged Janet Gonzalez. "I just started crying."

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