GREENSBORO, N.C. — Nearly 300 soldiers were reunited with their families as North Carolina National Guard’s 113th Sustainment Brigade arrived home safely Saturday in Greensboro.
While the men and women greeted loved ones from all over the state, they couldn’t hide their excitement to step back on American soil.
The Brigade’s soldiers were deployed a year ago.
Before today’s welcome home ceremony, John Widmer’s wife and kids anxiously waited for him to step off the aircraft.
“Come on,” said his wife, Dee. “Come on, open the door!”
She and her kids, Mallory and Matthew, cheered and cried when they finally caught sight of dad. They are from the Raleigh area.
Another family, one from Greensboro, hugged tightly after the soldiers were finally dismissed.
David Pumphrey showered his eight-month-old daughter, Michaela Abigail, with hugs and kisses.
It’s only the second time he’s ever seen his little girl in person.
“You never know how you’re going to react,” he said. “I didn’t know how she was going to react. But she did well! I tried to see her (through online video) as much as possible while overseas. And now? I get to see her pretty brown eyes up close.”
Pumphrey’s wife, Shanika, held back tears.
“It’s been an interesting year, raising her,” she said. “Now her Dad’s home and he’s here to help. We are just so excited.”
“I’m ready to get back to being a Daddy. And eating baby toes!” David joked.
The Soldiers deployed to Kuwait and served in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Jordan as part of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The men and women helped execute the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, one of the largest logistical drawdowns in American Military history.
Amid tearful hugs and joyful tears, generations of families were reunited.
Eight-year-old Paul Pearce and his grandfather, a veteran, greeted his Dad with a homemade sign.
“I’ve been waiting a year to see him,” Paul said.
Paul told FOX8 he plans to take dad home to “play lots of board games tonight.”
It was a simple wish for the young boy who wore sunglasses just in case he needed to hide his tears Saturday.
Even with all the celebration, David Pumphrey said it was hard to ignore that this reunion is temporary.
“I actually just got orders to head back out next December to Afghanistan,” he said.
For now, though, he said, they will enjoy being back home, just in time for the holidays.