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Dave Olson, Published July 25 2010

‘Long year’ ends for North Dakota soldiers and their families

Sandy Zimmerman waited with other family members in Fargo Saturday evening for the plane that was carrying her husband, Al, who had just served a year of duty in Kosovo.

“It’s been a long year. Skype is a lifesaver,” said Zimmerman, referring to computer software that allowed her to have Internet conversations with her husband while he was serving overseas with the North Dakota National Guard.

Minutes later, Zimmerman, of West Fargo, and others cheered as a plane carrying more than 100 soldiers landed.

Among them was Capt. Mike Green of Grand Forks, whose wife, Mandi, said it felt amazing to have her husband home.

She said it will also be nice to have someone to share household duties with, including caring for their daughter, Norah, 3, and doing shoveling and mowing.

Tanya Leick said she was “thrilled to death” to have her husband, Staff Sgt. Darin Leick, back home and she was hoping he won’t have to leave again any time soon.

But she said if he does, his family will understand.

“We know his role is to defend his country,” said Leick, who is from Valley City.

With Saturday’s homecoming, 40 North Dakota soldiers remain in Kosovo to coordinate a mission transfer to the Puerto Rican National Guard.

The remaining soldiers are expected home by the end of the month.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555