Utah soldiers return to their families after tour in Afghanistan


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A familiar, happy scene - the airport terminal filled with screaming, cheering groups of people, welcoming back soldiers from the war zone.

It happened again today at Salt Lake International, as a group of Utah Army Reservists returned home after a 12- month deployment in Afghanistan.

This never gets old - seeing the joy of military families back together again. Especially the children. Watching the faces of Joe, Lilly and Drew Chapple as they spot their dad.

Behind the kids is wife and mother, Jen Chapple. Her husband, Brian is returning from his third deployment in the Middle East. He was one of about 80 members of the 971st Medical Company, stationed at Bahgram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

KSL met with Jen and the kids yesterday in their Harrisville home, as they got the house ready for Brian's return, counting down the hours all the way. While her dad was gone, 4-year-old Lilly kept dad close by with big poster called "Flat Daddy." Well, daddy is no longer "flat." To the delight of the whole family, he's the real thing again.

"I sure hope (I'm done)! I'm hoping I don't have to go back," said Drew Chapple.

The 971st Medical Company is made up of soldiers from all over the U.S. and about 30 are from Utah. The group left Afghanistan to head back to the U.S. just a couple of days ago. And this scene at Salt Lake International was repeated at several other airports as well.

Specialist Roy Coates was especially glad to see the "welcome home" banners and signs, and all of the red, white and blue. This was his first tour of duty.

"It was an interesting experience that's all I'll say," he laughed when asked whether he was glad he went.

After all the hugs, quick anecdotes and a whole lot of picture taking, members of the 971st headed home. Back to family and home cooked meals.

Welcome back.

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Email: [kmccord@ksl.com](<mailto: kmccord@ksl.com>)

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Keith McCord

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