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Husband of South Carolina governor returns from Afghanistan

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - The husband of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has returned home from an 11-month deployment with the U.S. National Guard in Afghanistan where he trained farmers to grow crops other than poppies, which are used to make heroin.

Michael Haley's unit of more than 40 soldiers with the National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team arrived at an airport in Columbia, South Carolina, where it was greeted by a welcoming ceremony, South Carolina Guard spokeswoman Cynthia King said.

The unit was sent to Afghanistan last February to train Afghan farmers in Helmand Province how to use fertilizers, irrigation and other skills.

The mission was part of an overall U.S. military push to encourage Afghan farmers to seek alternatives to poppy production.

It was the first overseas deployment for Captain Haley, 43, who joined the Army National Guard in 2006.

His wife Nikki Haley, a Republican, was elected governor in 2010.

The governor had not seen her husband, who is called the First Gentleman, since last summer, when he was on leave in South Carolina for two weeks.

In a posting on his Facebook page before he arrived, Haley said he was excited to be coming home.

"It's been a great tour, but long 11 months in Afghanistan," he wrote. "I am very much looking forward to coming home to my family and the great state of South Carolina! I digress and reflect on the discerning words of Forest Gump who said 'I think I'll go home now.'"

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; editing by Andrew Hay)

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