Soldiers with Montana National Guard return home in time for Veterans Day

Skylar Rispens

The tension in the air was palpable as loved ones huddled inside an airplane hangar at Missoula’s Minuteman Jet Center waiting to catch the first glimpse of their soldiers returning back from a yearlong deployment with the Montana National Guard.

Montana Army National Guard’s 163rd Combined Arms Battalion came home to emotional friends at family at Minuteman Aviation in Missoula on Thursday, Nov. 10. (Music provided by

Families and friends wrestled with excitement mixed with jitters as their arrival time approached. Some held children on their shoulders and mingled with others; one woman kept a small dog in her jacket to keep warm in the frigid weather.

“It’s been hard, we had our baby while he was gone,” said Abigail Hayward from Kalispell, who was awaiting the arrival of her husband Tyler Hayward from his first deployment. “I’m nervous for the transition back into normal life.”

People slowly moved closer to the opening of the hangar and craned their necks any time a plane flew overhead in the gray skies. When the plane was finally in-bound for the runway everyone flooded out to the tarmac waving and the sun broke through the clouds, illuminating Blue

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