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Families Welcome Home Members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade

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By Grant Sloan, News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Family and friends greeted nearly 130 members of the Oklahoma 45th Infantry Brigade today in Oklahoma City.

This marks the "beginning of the end" of America's draw down from the Middle East.

It's a familiar sound for family members of the 45th: The echoes of a military band playing the songs of America's past.

But on Saturday, those songs mark a new chapter – a triumphant welcome home for so many of Oklahoma's soldiers.

"There's a lot of emotion, kids, wife, moms, dads, and a lasting reminder of those that have gone before them," Captain Michael Deneen said.

3/2/12 Related Story: Soldiers From 45th Infantry Return To Oklahoma Soil

"There is no way of describing it, there is absolutely no way of describing it," Staff Sergeant Robet Berger said.

Kelvin Gaines is from Okmulgee, and he knows that feeling all too well. He and his three kids were anxiously waiting for his wife to walk in the door.

"Got their teeth brushed and their hair done. Matter of fact, they were ready before I was," Gaines said.

Gaines wears his wife's dog tags.

"Ever since she was gone I've had it on," Gaines said.

It stands as a reminder of a woman who's sacrificed so much.

"Any man that thinks being a woman is an easy job – it's not," Gaines said.

All together, 127 soldiers were welcomed back to American soil and given a tribute to their dedication while serving in the Middle East.

"Just a small piece, but the rest are coming home in the following weeks," Deneen said.

After months of waiting and a morning of anticipation, the hanger bay doors opened.

"Flabbergasted – the support that we get – it's why we do what we do," Berger said.

Families waited a pain-staking 15 minutes as the soldiers stood at attention, until finally, the words so many have waited to hear, for so long.

"My family means everything to me; I do what I do for them," Berger said.

The day brought a mother of three back to the family she has missed.

"This is a very special moment to me," Sergeant Jamee Gaines said. "It's been a long time waiting. I appreciate everybody's love and prayers."

And a last hurrah for a retiring staff sergeant, who closes the book on his military career. Now that he's back home, he has only one thing on his agenda.

"Enjoy life," Berger said.

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