Oklahoma National Guard Battalion Welcomed Home By Family, Friends
TULSA, Oklahoma - More than 150 members of the Oklahoma National Guard's 120th Engineer Battalion are back on the home front.
There was a massive celebration at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base, as hundreds were reunited with their loved ones, after nearly a year apart.
Hundreds of family members anxiously waited in the stands for the 120th Engineer Battalion to come home.
"I cannot wait," said military mom Cindy O'Grady. "I'm so excited. We've been here for two hours waiting."
The O'Grady family was decked out in red, white and blue.
Others also showed their patriotic pride and support for the troops with signs and balloons.
"It's excitement and suspense. He's been gone for about a year now," said Andy Walker, of his brother.
"I can't tell you what's going through my mind. I'm just so excited. He's home," said Jacquie Reid, of her son.
And, finally, came the moment everyone was waiting for. The servicemen and women have spent the past nine months helping the Afghan National Army. Now, they are on the home front with the people they missed most.
"I can't believe it. I'm actually home," said Lacey O'Grady, of the 120th Engineer Battalion. "I'm kind of wondering if it's fake, if they're going to say we have to get back on the plane and go back. Surprise."
These are the moments military families treasure. They say it's tough being away, but coming back is such a joy.
"It's been a year, so I'm sure things have changed," said Lt. Col. Jack Ritter, Commander of the 120th. "That's the hardest part, watching my 1-year-old grow up in pictures."
After all the hugs, kisses, smiles and tears, some soldiers said they're just looking to take it easy.
"I want to spend a week and a half just doing nothing but sitting at the house with my children. Getting up, making breakfast, watching TV, going outside playing at the park and doing nothing," Ritter said.
The battalion commander said he wants to thank Oklahomans for their continued support. He said that is what made their mission easier.
Although Tuesday was a happy homecoming, the journey is just beginning for about 100 members of the battalion, who just arrived in Afghanistan.
They will be gone for about nine months.