CO National Guard soldiers return home from combat in the Middle East

Soldiers were greeted Sunday morning in Denver
Posted at 11:38 AM, Oct 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-01 20:30:37-04

DENVER — Soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard returned to Colorado on Sunday morning. The nearly 100 men and women from the 169th Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters and the Target Acquisition Platoon helped in the fight against ISIS for about 10 months. 

The group was greeted by family members, friends and CONG senior leaders.

Denver7 was introduced to 22-year-old Daniel Saelens, back from his first deployment. 

He surprised his mom, Deborah, on Saturday and shared the video.

Saelens said he knocked on the front door of his family home, knowing his mom would be reluctant to answer.

To her surprise, after nine long months, Daniel was standing on the other side of the door.

"I spent, I don't know how many nights up, constantly praying... praying... praying," Deborah said.

She and her husband Dan have no prayed their way through three different deployments for three separate sons.

"It's never easy," Dan said.

Their son Daniel is number five of their six children. Another son representing the three generations of military men in the Saelens family.

"Been there, done that, understand it. So I'm just here to support and just be thankful," dad, Dan said. He served in the Army for more than 20-years.

Turning back to prayer, Deborah and Dan called Daniel's surprise return an answer to theirs.

"Her reaction, just screaming. She was in tears.. it was incredible," Daniel said.

Sunday's ceremony was held at Denver Public Schools’ Dr. Evie Garrett Dennis Campus at 10 a.m.

CONG Public Affairs officials told Denver7 in a release the 169th FAB provided, "fire support to Operation Inherent Resolve during combat operations in the fight against ISIS from Dec. 13, 2016, until Sept. 11, 2017, under the command of U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Army's 29th Infantry Division.

The unit employed the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to support partnered maneuver elements in Iraq and Syria.”

"These Soldiers made their mark in support of the warfight," the Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh said. "They answered the call and left families and employers to fight for freedom."

The unit is based out of Aurora, but the Soldiers live and work in communities across Colorado.

History of the 169th Field Artillery

The 169th Field Artillery has a long history of mobilizations.

Its lineage derives from the Colorado National Guard units that fought at the battle of Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, during the Civil War in 1862, also known as "the Gettysburg of the West" because of the battle's strategic importance.

The unit also fought at the Battle of Manila during the Spanish-American War. 

The unit transitioned to the 157th Infantry before World War I and fought during World War II before reforming as artillery following the Korean War. Most recently, the unit was deployed to Iraq during 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.