MISSOULA - It's been a year since over 300 Montana National Guard soldiers left their homes and families for deployment in Southwest Asia and on Thursday, they came home.
The families of soldiers from the 163rd Combined Arms Battalion and Task Force Grizz gathered around 9 a.m. at the Missoula airport. to welcome home their loved ones.
They held hand-made signs and waved the American flag to symbolize their support. They were feeling all of the emotions and much anticipation waiting to see the plane pull into the terminal.
"I feel like I'm gonna throw up but I also am so excited," Alyssa Sears who was waiting for her husband, said.
"I'm ready for him to do some dishes," Kellen Gibson said of his deployed brother. "We've missed him so much," Gibson's mother added.
Colonel Renee Dorvall felt similar excitement waiting for her troops to land and said she was full of pride for the sacrifices made by not only her soldiers — but the families left behind.
"You know, I am just so proud, I am proud of the service you know, we are a volunteer army. So these soldiers raised their right hand to defend their great state and nation. They answered the call when our unit was tasked to mobilize, so very proud of all their professionalism, their training, and all they were able to accomplish," Col. Dorvall said.
"But also very proud of the families that are here to support them, you know, they have a lot of sacrifices not having their service member with them for the last year. Knowing they missed so many significant events in their family's life, so just very thankful for their service as well," Col. Dorvall continued.
As soon as the soldiers filed out of the plane, everyone cheered and the scene was filled with tears and smiles of families being reunited.
Col. Dovall said this was a gift for the families this Veteran's Day, "With Veteran's Day being tomorrow, what a great time for them to come home."