GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Cpl. Adrian Powers embraces his wife Liz and one-year-old son Bear after his first tour overseas in Afghanistan. He was one of 20 CFB Shilo soldiers to arrive home yesterday during the waining days of Canada's mission OP Attention.
CFB SHILO — Eleven-year-old Preston Berry had no idea his mom was coming home from Afghanistan on Friday after close to six months away.
This youngster was among many loved ones who waited at the Multi-Purpose Training Facility on Friday for the arrival of 20 CFB Shilo soldiers who returned to the base yesterday after spending the past six months in Afghanistan as part of Operation Attention. (GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN)
As loved ones began to gather at the Multi-Purpose Training Facility at CFB Shilo yesterday afternoon, his live-in caregiver, Rhoda Amiotte, told Berry an important military dignitary was coming to visit the base and families of soldiers had to attend in an attempt to keep the surprise.
But as the large warehouse door opened after a two-hour delay, 20 soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of Canada’s Operation Attention for the last six months came streaming in — including Berry’s mom, Cpl. Michelle Recksiedler.
The only child in the family was reunited with his mom just in time for the holidays.
"I had no idea she was coming home," he said matter of factly, holding back tears as he hugged his mother once more.
Originally from just outside Winnipeg, this tour of duty was the first for Recksiedler.
"It was a great experience, a great opportunity," she said. "It’s hard, but with the communications these days, FaceTime and everything, it makes it easier."
Given the nature of this tour — which largely includes packing up bases as Canada winds down its presence in Afghanistan — there was more time to call loved ones.
"You never want to say when because you never know what’s going to happen because things do change," Recksiedler said.
With her feet planted back on home soil, it’s time to get to Christmas shopping before they unite with her family south of Winnipeg for the holidays.
It was also a long six months for Liz Powers, whose husband Adrian was serving overseas for the first time.
After Adrian walked into the gym, the couple were locked in a long embrace with their one-year-old son, Bear, followed by a long kiss.
"It’s just been very busy. It’s hard having him gone, but you make the best of it and the community is really amazing," Liz said.
Adrian said he’s "amazed" to be back.
"It was neat to be over there. It was neat to experience the culture, the people, a different way of life completely different from us," he said.
Next week, the couple and their three kids, including Bear, will head home to Chilliwack, B.C., for the holidays.
This was the last group of soldiers from Shilo to return home before Christmas. The rest of the soldiers involved in the operation will return to Canada by March.
About 350 soldiers from several military units based at Shilo have been deployed for the past six months in the final rotation of Canadian soldiers serving with the mission in Afghanistan.
The training activities by Canadian personnel in Kabul started to wind down at the beginning of October.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 14, 2013