The 420th Engineer Brigade received a hero's welcome during a parade through the twin cities. For one year and twelve days, local soldiers have been away from their families, but Wednesday, they came home.
"It's been a long year, probably the longest year of my life," says C.W.O. Chuck Carlson.
The men and women of the 420th Engineer Brigade based out of Bryan spent the past year rebuilding Iraq.
New schools, police stations and highways are the result of their diligent work.
And upon their return, the community held signs of support and thanks for a job well done.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity to service their county and Bryan/College Station. They've been in worse conditions than this but our hearts are warm and we're not turning anyone away," says Bob McKee.
"I know what it's like to come home...these folks have been oversees and they've been in Iraq without injuries and death. God was on their side," says Freddie Wolders.
As the soldiers embrace the family and friends they left behind, their thoughts are still with those that remain in Iraq and the threat they faced everyday.
"I was wondering if I'll ever make it back...and I made it," says Spc. William Jones.
Husbands and wives, parents and children they've never seen couldn't help but cherish this moment: When the most important people in their lives are back in their arms.
"It's been tough, it's been lonely but he's back now," says Soldier's Wife Elizabeth Gorman.
The safe return of all the soldiers of the 420th Engineer Brigade is an answer to many prayers, and the best Christmas present their families could ever receive.
Thursday at 9 a.m. there will be a ceremony honoring the returned soldiers at the VFW Post on 2818 in Bryan and the public is welcome to that event.