TULSA, Oklahoma - The sound of cheers could be heard throughout Tulsa International Airport, as 11 members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard were greeted by friends and family.

They call themselves the military's best kept secret. The 219th Engineering Installation Squad is a tenant unit of the 138th fighter wing. And as you can imagine, there were plenty of hugs and tears when they walked through the doors.

The anticipation of seeing their loved ones for the first time in over half a year was almost more than their wives could stand.

"I even have jitters in my stomach right now," Angelica Reynolds said.

"He's been gone two and three months at a time, but never this long," said Tara Bush, who was waiting for her husband, Tyler Bush.

They were joined by friends, family, and little ones, to welcome the airmen home.

"We actually just got married before he left," Reynolds said.

"After a while, I just explained to her that Daddy was a long way away," Tara said.

And after a 45-minute delay, the once 7,000-mile distance between wife and husband, father and daughter finally closed completely.

"It's always emotional," said Airman Levi Johnson. "I was pretty excited to see my boys."

The 11 airmen have spent the last seven months in both Afghanistan and Asia, helping set up telecommunication systems.

Many, like Kathy Bush, Tyler's mother, have been able to stay in contact over Skype, but she said it hasn't always been easy. She recounted a moment when she was talking to her son. She said sirens started going off where he was and he fell to the floor.

"There's time where family doesn't need to know what's going on. It can get kinda loud," Tyler said.

But the battlefield is behind these Airmen, for now. Even more members of 219th are headed home in the coming months. Some 35,000 are expected to come home over the next year

"I've been waiting for it for about 200 days, and it's about 200 hundred days too long," Tyler said.

Now, they can get back to their lives and enjoy the things that matter most.

In the next two weeks, another 37 members are expected to return home.