It's always a celebration on Fort Drum when soldiers return home from deployment. Lots of hugs and kisses were exchanged between the nearly 200 soldiers and their families Friday. YNN's Elizabeth Jeneault was there for the reunion.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Tears of relief and cheers of joy echoed through Magrath Gym as friends and family waited anxiously for 200 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers to arrive.
"We are here to get our man back, woohoo," said Lynnia Watkins.
After a short ceremony, soldiers rushed to hug and kiss their loved ones who they haven't seen in nine months.
"To see the families reunited, to hear the excitement, the electricity of the crowd. It's very special," said Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sullivan, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Commander.
A special moment, but also a somber one.
"It's so amazing because I didn't get this with my husband, so I was afraid we wouldn't get it with my brother. But we did. He's here. So it's a happy homecoming this time," said Seana Arrechaga who lost her husband while serving in Afghanistan in 2011.
A reminder of how precious life is, in addition to how tough the job can be. Sullivan says his brigade lost five members while on tour, a harsh reality, but one the team uses as fuel to just keep going.
"Taking that and then learning from that, not letting that cause you to halt your mission but to continue to push forward, make that something not as a source of weakness but strength to do your job even all that much better," said Sullivan.
Both brigades were working in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Now that they're home, a little R & R and maybe this...
"Cam's Pizza tonight, you know," joked Sullivan.
A simple pleasure after a lot of hard work.
The soldiers believe they did a good job at completing their mission, which was to help develop the Afghan National Security Forces.