March 30, 2013
More than two dozen Florida National Guardsmen are returning home after serving for more than 10 months.
The Camp Blanding-based soldiers received a hero's welcome home on Saturday.
"To come home to this and for them to welcome us and be able to hug their necks and say 'Thank you' is quiet an honor," said Lt. Lee Bruister.
Bruister has been looking forward to this moment for 10 months.
"Absolutely as a man of faith, I mean it absolutely makes it more special being Easter weekend," said Bruister.
Sprinkled in between the hand-made signs and American flags were plenty of hugs and happy tears at the Jacksonville International Airport.
Dozens of friends and families welcomed home 25 National Guardsmen with the 221st Explosive Ordinance Disposal based at Camp Blanding.
"I guess the most rewarding thing is coming back honestly," said Thomas Hagans. "It's our job you know, it's a duty, so we do it and try to make the best of it, no matter what the conditions are and then you get to come home and that's a reward."
Among some of the most eager was the Glasscock family.
"They are really excited," said Katie Glasscock. "They have been really excited all week. Just 'When's daddy getting here?'"
While the soldiers couldn't talk about their mission overseas, they said they couldn't be more proud of their work in operation enduring freedom.
"Proudest moment from the group is just seeing all the guys come together and work hard and do their mission," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Glasscock. "We do a lot of joint training with some foreign militaries and got to work with them, and partnership wise and just seeing a lot of young guys, you know, seamlessly transition into that."
With a successful deployment under their belts, having nothing but family time on the calendar is perhaps the best Easter present they could ask for.
"Nothing for a little while, just going to take some time and hangout with my family and just relax."
The families didn't waste much time at the airport. They headed right home for some much-needed R&R.