Among the last combat troops to serve in the Iraq war before this week's withdrawal, 140 Army National Guard soldiers from across Texas are now home. They arrived Saturday morning at Cobb Park Armory in Fort Worth.
Escorted by Patriot Riders and Fort Worth police, buses brought the guardsmen back to their families waiting anxiously. The Delta Company 1st Battalion 141st Infantry soldiers have come home to some long-awaited hugs and kisses and children that have been growing up while their fathers were away at war.
Inside the armory, sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers sat with the people they've missed for more than one year. The unit experienced casualties.
"It's actually pretty hard, being that it's my first one," Spc. Tyrone Johnson said of his first deployment and first child to leave behind.
For some families, one could say the burden is even heavier. One Arlington mom has one son back, another one about to enlist, and a son-in-law deploying to Iraq next year. The only son staying home has missed his brothers.
"He lost his video game buddy," Therese Roberts-Hollar said, translating for her deaf son, Jeffery Yaws-Hollar.
"I got a message from him while I was over there, saying all he wanted to do was, he was waiting for me to come back home so we could just hang out together, just me and him," said Spc. Charles Hollar, who brought back a piece of Iraq Jeffery requested -- a camel.
The soldiers all have bags to unload and new memories to make.
"She wants Daddy to take her to the water park, so she's really glad to get to go there now," Brittany, Johnson's wife, said about their 2-year-old daughter.
About 50,000 non-combat troops from the U.S. will remain in Iraq, providing support to Iraqi security forces. At the peak of the 7-year war, more than 170,000 American soldiers fought in Iraq.