Cheers and a mixture of tears greeted the 125 reserve soldiers from the Army's 498th Transportation Company, as they returned to their loved ones and hometown fans in Mobile, after a year in Iraq.
Called Operation Home front, Saturday's welcome home was a joint effort of the non-profit Volunteers of America Southeast and the Mobile Baybears.
Organizers say such ceremonies are sometimes as important to the supporters as to the soldiers.
"If they can touch one, verbally say thank you then they feel like they're doing a small part to protect our country," says Margaret Coley, Director of Community Affairs for Volunteers of America Southeast.
The unit is stationed in Mobile but includes reservists from several states, including South Mississippi.
"They are primarily from all along the I-10 corridor from Panama City, Pensacola, mostly Mobile into Mississippi, Pascagoola, in that area," says Major Daniel Taylor of the 498th Transportation Company.
And they are forever bound by the experience of doing their duty, transporting supplies and surviving, on some of the most hostile roads on earth.
"It was terrible actually, but you had to pray and everything came out just fine," says Sergeant Angela Dale of Gautier.
The unit conduced over 6 thousand missions during their deployment, covering one point five million miles all across Iraq with everyone returning home.
"That was the main goal, to get over there with everybody and get back with everybody," says Sergeant Kenneth Terrell of Gautier.
It's a goal and a mission now successfully accomplished.