BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Hundreds of U.S. Airmen are home for the holidays as the last group of Air Force members left Iraq.
Monique Griego was there for their hero’s welcome.
After months of being separated, for military families, these final moments are filled with anxiety and a lot of anticipation.
“I’m excited he’s going to be home for Christmas this year because he wasn’t last year,” said Erin Bichy, whose husband is returning home.
Bichy and her daughter Maddie were among the dozens of family members and supporters at BWI, who gathered to give a hero’s welcome to the last 300 Air Force members to leave Iraq.
“The military has been very good to them, but it’s a relief to know they’re home and safe,” said Teresa Kohlar, family member.
The cheers that accompanied every arrival showed just how thankful the crowd was to see these troops home.
“I didn’t know it was going to be that big, but it was awesome. It was sobering. It was really nice,” said Tech Sgt. Mauricio Aguirre, returning home.
For many, Tuesday’s journey home is part of a bigger ending.
“Have some time to reflect on the whole nine years and what went on in Iraq. Just happy that it’s mission accomplished and it’s done,” said Master Sgt. Jason Stacy, who is returning home.
Just like their families, the Airmen also have a hard time waiting.
“We hear all the noise we just can’t wait to get our bags and see all out loved ones,” said Staff Sergeant Michael Bichy.
He compared the reunion to one thing: “like Christmas day when you were a kid,” he said.
Despite all the attention and outpouring of appreciation, these soldiers say being home for the holidays is the best reward.
Around 230 troops flew in Tuesday morning. The final 70 are expected sometime after 10 p.m.