It was a heartfelt reunion for the families and soldiers of the 1432nd in Kingsford Thursday. The 1432 Engineer Company of the National Guard are finally home after a 10 month tour of duty in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The more than 90 soldiers of the 1432nd were officially released, and their loved ones stormed the court of Kingsford High School. Samantha and her husband, Specialist Jamie Mattson, were married only months before his departure to Afghanistan. Their reunion couldn't come soon enough, but it was delayed by over an hour because of a broken down bus. The anticipation was mounting.
"I can't even explain it. I'm probably going to start crying because I'm so excited!" said Sam Mattson of Foster City.
Sam recalls what it was like living without her husband.
"There were nights where you just want to scream and cry into your pillow because you're just so lonely, and you just want to snuggle up with him and you can't," Mattson said.
It made the reunion all the sweeter. Sam was at a loss for words.
"I don't even know...just pure joy," Mattson said, smiling.
"Never been better. It feels good to be back with the wife," said her husband, SPC Jamie Mattson.
Also reunited with her husband was Melissa Wilson. She and her husband, Casey Wilson, have three children. They greeted Casey together. Casey Wilson was deployed very shortly after his daughter, Kaelyn, was born. He had seen her for a total of only nine days prior to his tour of duty. His wife, Melissa, was speechless upon their reunion. She said she was incredibly nervous because it was like she was meeting him for the first time again.
"I don't know. Just excited, happy, everything possible," said Melissa Wilson.
Casey Wilson is home in time for his baby Kaelyn's first birthday this Tuesday, something he's very happy about.
It was a happiness shared by thousands as the soldiers walked through the doors, and the crowd saw their loved ones for the first time in nearly a year.
"My dad has been gone for a long time, and I'm really excited to see him," said 10-year-old Desiree Deace.
Desiree was waiting anxiously to see her father, Specialist Brandon Deace, who says his to-do list includes a lot of vacation.
"I'm just glad to be back stateside, back in my hometown with my family and friends," said SPC Deace.
For many of these soldiers of the 1432nd, their military careers may take them far from home again, but until then, they'll be enjoying some time off with family and friends.
For many pictures of the event, check out Grandpa Camo.