GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After a seven month deployment to Afghanistan, 170 Seabees are back home in South Mississippi.
Hundreds of family and friends stood, signs in hand, anxiously awaiting the arrival of their loved ones Monday morning. When the Seabees stepped off the bus, they were nearly tackled with love.
"Mommy, I missed Daddy," said a young boy in the crowd.
These Seabees were in Afghanistan for almost eight months.
"I'm so glad she's home! My daughter's home and I love her to death," said Seabee mother Eva McClure.
There were flags waving, signs held high, and smiles from ear to ear. From fathers to mothers, the excitement in the air was contagious.
"It's like I'm in a delivery room... 5 fingers, 5 toes," said a mother in the crowd.
"It's amazing. You know it's been a long time," said Seabee Andy Litteral. "It seems a whole lot longer when you're away from family. So it just means everything to be back with them."
The Litteral family made special preparations for their dad's arrival.
"My kids made these yesterday and I let my son put what he wanted and he said he wants to buy his daddy a monster truck when he gets home," said Angela Litteral
This big day turned out to be even bigger for some.
"Well, I just proposed to her," said Seabee Charles Schwacke.
Schwacke give his new fiancee a ring just moments after stepping off the bus.
"Yes! Yes I did, I said yes," said Schwacke's new fiancee, Jackalyn Roleman
Seabee Commander Captain Burgess said this battalion is something to be prized.
"I can tell you that the folks in Gulfport can be proud that there are fine Americans serving our Navy and our nation," said Captain Burgess.
That includes Seabees like Casey McClure, who said she's proud to serve her country, but home is where her heart is.
"I still can't believe it. I'm still kind of in shock that I'm here," said McClure.
The members of NMCB 11 left for Afghanistan in January to do construction work. They had been scheduled to arrive home Sunday, but a technical difficulty delayed the plane in Maine.