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Mass. National Guardsmen return for Thanksgiving

Sean Thibedeau hugged his girlfriend, Nadene Nardella, and greeted Colby Torrey, 4, and Tim Torrey at the 182nd Engineer Company’s homecoming.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Sean Thibedeau hugged his girlfriend, Nadene Nardella, and greeted Colby Torrey, 4, and Tim Torrey at the 182nd Engineer Company’s homecoming.

Just in time to enjoy a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, nearly 100 soldiers from the National Guard’s 182d Engineer Company arrived in Newburyport on Thursday after a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan.

“We’re extremely lucky that they all came back,” said Sergeant Hugh Crawford, who works at the Newburyport Armory. “They’re all happy to be home.”

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American flags and handmade welcome signs lined Low Street as the military engineering unit approached the armory, where more than 500 family members, friends, and local government officials awaited their arrival. Several soldiers met their young children for the first time.

“There was a lot of crying, laughing,” Crawford said after the soldiers were dismissed to their families. “They had amazing support.”

In Afghanistan, troops in the 182d had the harrowing assignment of clearing improvised explosive devices planted along roads in Kandahar Province, Crawford said. The company of 84 soldiers cleared almost 22,000 miles of roadway, encountering 96 IEDs along the way, Captain Michael R. Bouchard said in a statement.

“It was really tough the first few months of deployment,” Specialist Michael G. Demers, a combat engineer, said. “We were hitting a lot of IEDs because of the terrain we were encountering.”

The deployment was the company’s second . During the tour, two combat medic badges and 55 combat action badges were awarded to members of the 182d, Bouchard said.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at sarah.mattero@globe.com. Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com.
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