GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tears of joy, kisses and lots of hugs were shared as members of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 made their way home Friday. Fifteen members of this unit spent several weeks building treatment centers in the Ebola stricken areas of West Africa, then spent three weeks on a mandatory quarantine period in Virginia.
Welcome home signs lined the street leading the nearly 100 Seabees back to their families. As the buses turned the corner, family members yelled and waved the heroes in. One by one, the men and women piled off the bus, anxious to embrace the loved ones they had been missing for seven months.
One woman said to her daughter, "Oh, you look so good."
Tears rolled down a mother and father's face as they ran to surprise their son.
"We flew down last night and didn't tell him a thing," Julie Byrne said.
Byrne and her husband came from New York to give their Seabee a proper welcome home.
"It's complete exhilaration. I'm so happy," Byrne said.
"I had butterflies. I'm not going to lie," Caitlin Compton said.
Compton has been counting down the days until she could hold her husband in her arms again.
"I have a white board that now says Justin's home today," Compton said. "It's pretty nerdy, but I kept going with it."
"It's tough, but it's worth it," Justin Compton said. "For my family. That's why I do it."
These selfless men and women were stationed all around the world, but for several weeks, 15 of them helped in the fight against Ebola by building treatment centers in West Africa where the deadly disease is most prominent.
"It is a challenge but coming home to something like this," NMCB 133rd Executive Officer Jared Jasinski said. "The fact that we were able to support and enable the war fighters forward and help them make the country more secure and safe, I think everyone here would tell you that's the reason they do what they do. Again, they just did a great job."
Some could not even communicate during the deployment, but if you ask them, it's not heroic. It's just what they do.
"I think it just makes us stronger as a family, you know," Seabee wife Katie Parks said. "We look forward to being a complete family for a little while."
Around 100 of the NMCB's 133rd arrived home Friday.