PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Leaving their families, jobs, school, responsibilities at home put on hold for nearly 10 months for the call of duty. Arizona National Guard Citizen-soldiers deployed to Afghanistan back in September. Today, they're back home.
The 856th Military Police Company Detachment One came home Saturday afternoon to some unconditional love from family and friends. After a long journey, about 30 soldiers get to live a normal life - for now.
With each note, the band plays. Anxiety in the room builds, but patience is a virtue. "Every minute gets closer," said military wife Tracey Lutz. "It's very exciting."
It's been 298 days since these families have hugged their soldiers. Lauren Savalle's newest blessing, 7-month-old Payson, doesn't seem nervous. But she's about to meet her dad for the first time.
"I'm nervous, I'm very nervous," Savalle said. "I've been nervous and I don't think it hit me until yesterday."
The 856th Military Police Company Detachment one is finally home from Afghanistan. Operation Freedom's Sentinel is complete.
Sergeant Ryan McDaneld is grateful to be alive.
"It's just an overwhelming experience to meet my daughter," Sgt. McDaneld said. "What we saw over there is crazy compared to what we live in here."
There was pride in the room, passed on from generation to generation. Nicole Parrack's grandfather fought in Vietnam. She's not only following in his footsteps with military service, but she's also a Show Low firefighter.
"Now, since she left, I understand how my family felt when I left to Vietnam," said Vietnam veteran Mike Hammet.
"I'm pretty excited to get back to right," Parrack said. "It's fire season right now, so I'm sure I've got a lot to catch up on."
And catch up they will. For now, there's patience in the moment.
It's just a great feeling to be home," Sgt. McDaneld said. "It's been a long time."