For 329 days the 818th Engineer Company conducted a very dangerous mission in Afghanistan --- and today they return home to a rally of supporters in North Dakota.
Family and friends showed up hours before the plane landed in Bismarck, anxiously awaiting to be reunited with their loved ones --- and it was an emotional reunion for everyone.
It's hard to hide the smiles on these faces ---- waiting to welcome home members of North Dakota's 818th Engineer Company.
"I'm welcoming home my cousin, Michael Connole and my Fiance William," Patricia Connole said.
"My Husband Brent," Lindsey MIller said.
"We are welcoming home our son Travis," Richella Lutz said.
For the last 329 days, mom's, dad's, brothers and sisters have been waiting for this day.
"Very proud, you could say he's the first hero in the family," Lutz said.
"I'm just getting goose bumps right now thinking about it, the wait has been so long, it's been a rough year," Karen Dethmers said.
Of course, we can't forget about grandma.
"Kiss him, hug him, give him a big sloppy kiss," Donna Miller said.
And when the plane finally touches down...The emotion that's been kept inside for nearly a year...Is let go.
"I'm so happy," Miller said.
"Once you get off that plane nerves really hit you, I saw the crowd." Sgt. Kyle Christensen said.
"Get to hold my daughter, my wife," Sgt. Brent Miller said.
"It was great, it's been the longest hour of my life, ever," Jackie Christensen said.
While many North Dakotan's are sick of the snow, for these soldiers it's a sign they've made it home.
"I looked outside and I saw everything was white, and I knew I was back home," Christensen said.
And now that Sgt. Kyle Christensen is reunited with his wife Jackie, they have some big plans ahead of them.
"Start a family," Jackie Christensen said.
The 818th lost two members during their mission to Afghanistan. Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde and Specialist Tyler Orgaard were killed in December. The National Guard will have a formal welcome home celebration for the returning soldiers early this summer.