Largest Wave of 148th Fighter Wing Returns Home from Afghanistan

By KBJR News 1

October 25, 2012 Updated Oct 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - When you've had to wait three months to hug your dad, as was the case for 18–year–old Emily Beaudry, and her siblings, being forced to wait the extra few moments as the troops disembark, can be nothing short of torture.

Emily says it's been the little things that have left the biggest hole in her heart: "It's tough, [he's missed] just a lot of family time. We miss him at the dinner table, and his spot's just always open; and then his jokes, and all that funny stuff. [We're] just missing him, you know?"

12–year–old Audrey says she's especially looking forward to adding one more year to their traditional family deer hunt, of which she and her sister became a part two years ago.

"The first year we both shot a buck, so it was really exciting. Then, the second year she shot a buck and I shot a doe," says Audrey.

Emily says the anxiety over their father's deployment, at times, was heightened by unsettling stories about troops overseas. This was also the first deployment of the 148th to the Kandahar Airfield, in Afghanistan.

"You have someone over there that you love, and it's just really scary at times. You just hear things, and you just worry a lot," says Emily.

It's a concern felt by both sides when thinking about the future—for 148th member Russell Schanilec, its thinking about the loved one he left behind.

"I am speechless! I haven't seen him for three months, and all of a sudden—I don't even know what to say," exclaimed a shocked Katelyn Kuhlman after Schanilec dropped on one knee moments after exiting the bus.

And yes, Kuhlman said "yes."

Nearly 300 Airmen in all, or 30 percent of the 148th Fighter Wing, were deployed in August in support of operation ENDURING FREEDOM.