Families Welcome Home the Troops

Soldiers held a brief, patriotic ceremony.
Soldiers held a brief, patriotic ceremony.
Friends and family welcomed back soldiers at Hunter Army Airfield.
Friends and family welcomed back soldiers at Hunter Army Airfield.
A reunion more than a year in the making.
A reunion more than a year in the making.

It felt like years, but the long wait paid off Thursday evening for friends and family of the 260th Quartermaster Battalion. The unit's based at Savannah's Hunter Army Airfield, but 65 of the soldiers have spent the last 16 months in Iraq.

Their responsibility, getting what other soldiers needed, where they needed it. That's not easy in a war zone. The 260th conducted some 1,500 "tactical distribution operations," moving more than 50,000 tons of cargo to units in the field, logging more than two million miles in the process.

But Thursday night was all about moving them home. Hundreds of people waited in a chilly hangar on Hunter, hands full of signs and bouquets and balloons, hearts warmed by the thought their loved ones were somewhere in the air, but getting closer to home by the second.

The crowd roared as the soldiers finally marched in behind the flag and their colors. A brief, patriotic ceremony, then the signal they all waited for, the high sign to flood the floor and find their soldier. The rush was on, moms and dads, kids and cousins running to the uniformed troops, a reunion more than a year in the making.

Kerrie Wagers husband is a Staff Sgt. She had goose bumps through the waiting, but when she finally saw her man again, she had but one thing to say to everyone. "I'm elated," she said. "They're home, they're safe, they're loved. Thank you for all your support."

Reported by: Mike Manhatton, mmanhatton@wtoc.com