The Sioux Falls Regional Airport had a new visitor on Thursday afternoon as the New England Patriots team plane landed in town. It was used to bring South Dakota soldiers home!

The New England Patriots 747 plane brought home members of the Army National Guard and the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. The entire unit is made up of nearly 1,400 soldiers in 17 communities of South Dakota according to the South Dakota National Guard. About 200 soldiers of the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade spent the last ten months overseas in Africa.

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Following the flight, the soldiers were then bused to a welcome home event at the Elmen Center at Augustana University. It was then that they were able to greet and see their families for the first time in ten months!

Welcome home the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade! We thank you for your service and for all that you do!

As for the plane, the New England Patriots have sent the team plane on a variety of different trips over the years. According to TrueNorth, the Patriots have made the team plane available to Eastern Airlines to help transport military families across the country.

In addition to using the plane to help transport the military, the Patriots have also utilized the 747 to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in February, the Kraft family sent the plane loaded with personal protective equipment to China to help the country with its battle against COVID-19. The team also rewarded 76 healthcare workers that were fully vaccinated with a trip to the Super Bowl.

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