WIS sits down with South Carolina’s First Family - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

WIS sits down with South Carolina’s First Family

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Like most families, the Christmas tree becomes the focal point of the holiday decorations.

For Governor Nikki Haley and First Gentleman Michael Haley, the vibrant green colors in their home, complemented by ornaments significant to South Carolina, represent the feeling of new life after returning from serving in Afghanistan.

"There wasn't a lot of noise," Capt. Haley said. "There were really no animals around, birds chirping or anything like that. There was nothing to do, so coming back home into South Carolina where it's so green, it's a little bit more vivacious."

First Gentleman Haley is a captain with the National Guard. His service was in Helmand, a desolate, dreary and dry land.

"I literally came back and walked around for about an hour, touring around the house just looking at different things," Capt. Haley said. "You have to take it all back in and do it in your own time. I'm thankful to be back during the holidays, so it's good."

"All he kept saying was, ‘It's just so beautiful here,'" Gov. Haley said. "All they see there is sand and dirt. And then they come here and they see green and they see family. It really is a transition for a soldier."

Pictures around the mansion display moments spent together. Family photos taken while Haley was miles away, served as a connecting lifeline.

"I got to credit Nikki and the kids," Capt. Haley said. "I got constant emails from them. And while I lived in the past, to some degree, I was still able to share a lot of those moments in pictures and emails."

This was Haley's first deployment overseas since joining the National Guard in 2006. He worked with Afghan farmers to replace their poppy crops which are used to make heroin.

"And a lot of that money, as you know, goes to Al Qaida supporting terrorism, so our efforts were to build up the government there and, hopefully, create an economy there that people can start growing licit crops they can sell locally and export," he said.

Many would understand if a family member is hesitant to leave family and the comforts of home for military service.

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