VOLK FIELD, Wis. - The long wait is finally over for family and friends of soldiers with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 229th Engineer Company.
Thursday afternoon, the soldiers touched down at Volk Field after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people were waiting to greet them with signs and hugs.
While overseas, the unit helped build roads as well as expand operating bases and combat outposts.
Organizers said the homecoming is something the entire community can be proud of.
"They've missed their soldier, fathers, husbands, wives and daughters for so long, and to bring everyone together, it's a real sense of community and the 229th has one of the best support groups that we've seen," said Major Matthew Kelly of the U.S. Army.
The 229th is stationed in Prairie Du Chien. Also coming home were members of the 106th out of Tomah.20945100
Teresa Hubert of Tomah has been anxiously waiting nine months for this day.
"I haven't seen him for so long," she said.
Her son, Ethan, is supposed to be returning from Afghanistan with the 229th U.S. Army Engineering Company. This was his first deployment.
"It's been hard, but yet it's been very fast," Teresa said.
In the sea of hundreds of people waiting to welcome home their soldier, it's pretty easy to pick out the couple dozen family members wearing orange waiting for Ethan.
"It's one of his favorite colors," said Teresa. "It's green and orange."
She's waiting on a special promise.
"He knows that I get the first hug," Teresa said. "He knows that that was predetermined a long time ago."
One by one nearly 150 soldiers made their way back to the hugs and kisses they've missed for nine long months.
Ethan soon spots his favorite colors and as promised, Teresa is first in line to get a hug.
"Welcome home" she said to Ethan.
"Knowing my family, they were going to do something special and kind of ridiculous," said Spc. Ethan Hubert, with the 229th.
But no matter how ridiculous it is, he said it's just good to be home.
"It was difficult, but doing the email and the Skype and everything, and the care package from everybody, and all the support helped out a lot," said Ethan.
And his family couldn't be more proud.
"We love him, and welcome home," said Teresa. "Thank you for serving."
Hubert is one of several family members that have served in the military, including his older brother.
This isn't the first time the 229th has deployed overseas. The unit was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
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