ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) -

It's going to be a very special holiday for a group of local National Guard soldiers and their families. 

Members of Onalaska's 327th engineering unit are home from Afghanistan just in time for Christmas. 

They've been deployed since last May and were supposed to be back in March, but they are home early. They arrived at the La Crosse Airport at about 3 p.m. on Tuesday to a tearful welcome from friends and family. 

They've been demobilizing at Fort Bliss, Texas; a process that was supposed to take a couple more days. 

But their commander sped things up to make sure they were home for the holidays.

"I tried to surprise them but it didn't work out that way,” said Specialist Lisa Larsen. “They found out through other communication, which is probably good. She said I'd give her a heart attack.” 

“It was a great surprise for us and we're very proud of her and glad to have her home and get her back for Christmas,” said Lisa’s dad Harvey Larsen. “You don't want to make me cry; the best gift I've ever had,” Lisa’s mom Lois Larsen said through tears.

The soldiers were attached to a unit from Milwaukee.