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People

February 10, 2013

Soldiers' joyous return tinged with sadness

MALONE — PLATTSBURGH — After a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, Alex Santo had definite plans for his first night home.

The U.S. Army Reserve specialist planned to test drive his new truck then relax and spend time with family and friends.

“And he wants to go shopping for normal clothes,” laughed his mom, Tammy Santo.

The Upper Jay native was one of five local reservists who landed at Plattsburgh International Airport Tuesday night, following an 11-month tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 444th Engineer Company of Oswego.

They are the latest soldiers from the North Country to return from deployment as the U.S. presence in Afghanistan winds down.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

“It’s good to be home, and it’s great to see everyone,” said Spec. Adam Lord as he stood in uniform, surrounded by family and friends at the airport.

His loved ones had anxiously awaited his return and celebrated with tears, hugs and a round of applause when he stepped through the airport gates.

“My stomach has been full of butterflies. We’re so excited to see him,” Lord’s mother, Jamie, said from her Ellenburg Center home before his arrival.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights worrying about him. I know (the soldiers) are well-trained, but you still worry. We’re just so proud of him.”

Lord found his calling to service in high school, when he signed on for the Future Soldiers Program while a student at Northern Adirondack Central, from which he graduated in 2008.

FIRST STOP: TEXAS

It was a third deployment for First Sgt. Tom Lauzon of Bombay, who was greeted by his wife, Tracey, and teen daughter, Kelsie.

“We’re just so glad to have him home,” Tracey said.

Spec. Shawn Jacob of Brasher Falls and Spec. Carmelo Cruz of Plattsburgh were also greeted by standing ovations.

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