Military families share tearful reunions at Bismarck Airport after years apart

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BISMARCK, ND - Braxton Hickle hasn't seen his father in a year, as Sergeant Chris Hickle was serving his country overseas.

Now, the North Dakota family is whole once more.

Brig. Gen. Giselle Wilz and Sgt. Chris Hickel are coming home after years overseas.

"It feels great after two years," said Wilz.

"It's great. It's a lot different. When I left my son was three, so he's grown a lot now in the last two years and I just can't wait to be home and spend some time with him," said Hickel.

Family and friends are already making plans for them.

"We're going to do the bubbles and we're going to fix the spiderman helicopter," said Braxton Hickel, Hickel's son.

"A surprise maybe, we'll see what's gonna happen. Go to the lake, probably drink some beer," said Anthony Rice, Hickel's brother.

"I missed family, and I missed friends. Even though that was an incredible opportunity, and we had the opportunity to see a lot of Eastern Europe and meet a lot of great people, you always miss family and friends," said Wilz.

They are just two of those returning today. Both from Bosnia and Herzegovina after a two year tour of duty at a NATO base in Sarajevo.

"NATO is in Bosnia Herzegovina to help support the ministry of defense and the armed forces of Bosnia Herzegovina to work on defense and security sector reform. It's actually professionalizing their military so that they can be a better partner member to the alliance and eventually get into the NATO alliance," said Wilz.

Brigadier General Wilz was the commander of the operation for the last two years and Sergeant Hickel her Security Operations NCO.

"We got to travel a lot. We got to meet a lot of very interesting people from presidents, to princesses, and prime ministers," said Hickel.

But the most interesting people Hickel could meet waited for him at the airport.

"Definitely lost two years of my son's life, it's really hard," said Sgt. Hickel.

Both are happy to be home, and are excited for the next chapter in their careers.

The immediate missions of both soldiers is to enjoy the fourth and some much needed time at home.