FORT STEWART, GA (WTOC) - The crowd was small in number, but large in spirit. Loved ones waited inside the Jordan Youth Gym for 47 1st Heavy Brigade Combat team soldiers to come home. Some waited to re-introduce little ones to their soldiers they hadn't seen in months. Mona Agosto held her four-month-old son, Emmanuel, for her husband Frank.
"The last time he saw him was when he was a month old or so. He missed his birth because he was a week early so he didn't get to see," Mona described.
The story was much the same for Tiffany Posey as she held her four month old son, Landon, as she waited for husband, Terry, with their two older children.
The soldiers' returned a little more than a week before Thanksgiving. The fact they'll be home for the holidays isn't lost on anyone.
"It's awesome that he gets to be home with family for Thanksgiving and he gets to be with us for Christmas," said Lavonna Hamilton as she waited for her husband Victor.
After several songs from the Marne Division Band, the soldiers victoriously marched through the gym door to cheers and squeals of delight from loved ones. Their ceremony lasted less than 10 minutes, then relatives flocked the gym floor and soldiers broke free from their formation for hugs, kisses, and pictures.
"As soon as I walked in, a couple of paces, I saw my kids and my wife instantly," said Spc. Terry Posey as he held Landon. "Compared to where we've been and what we've been doing, I won't mind dirty diapers."
Soldiers said the progress in Iraq was worth the year away from home.
"It's hard to explain. You have to see it and see the people to understand. You can't explain it with words," said Staff Sgt. Frank Agosto.
"I could not be prouder of him and the rest of the troops," Mona added. "They've sacrificed time from their families to go and protect our country."