Illinois soldiers return home from Afghanistan -

Illinois soldiers return home from Afghanistan

KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) -- About 135 Illinois Army National Guard soldiers have returned home after a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The soldiers from the 178th Infantry were greeted Sunday by their families, friends and supporters at a welcome home ceremony in Kankakee. The soldiers were on three buses and followed a parade route from Manteno, through Bradley and then to a Kankakee community center. They departed Fort McCoy, Wis., early Sunday.

In Kankakee, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke to the soldiers, telling them "they are the pride of our nation, the pride of the Land of Lincoln."

Natalie Gonzalez of Carol Stream cried as she hugged her husband, 1st Lt. Lionel Gonzalez. The 23-year-old woman called his homecoming "a big relief."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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