It was an emotional welcome home ceremony for leaders and soldiers of the 1108th AVCRAD unit. Saturday morning, soldiers and their families came out to the Combat Readiness Training Center to get a thank you for a job well done.
After Katrina, more than a hundred soldiers made the decision to leave hurricane stricken Gulf Coast to serve their country.
"When we assessed the damage after the hurricane, we realized that some of the people needed to stay at home and take care of their families," says Col. James Young, commander of the 1108 th Aircraft.
112 men and women of the 1108th did go to Kuwait but now they're back and they are getting a hearty thank you from their supporters.
"This is the first time that they have had a chance to get together and have a welcome home ceremony with their families and their employers and hand out freedom salute packages," says Major General Ike Pylant.
Leaders say the welcome home ceremony is important to every American soldier.
"Well I'm a Vietnam Veteran and that didn't happen and it's well deserved," says Col. Steve Clark with the Missouri National Guard.
Colonel Steve Clark is with the Missouri National Guard. He lead the Gulfport unit in its deployment to Kuwait.
"After the hurricane we knew that there were problems here, so Missouri thought that we would do our part and volunteer to go and about 112 or 113 soldiers volunteered to go with us. So together we had a full compliment to complete the mission," says col. Clark.
Sergeant first class Anthony Brister was one of the soldiers who had to leave his wife and three children after the storm. It's a mission he says was difficult but necessary.
"We are doing something so hopefully one day our kids won't have to do what we are doing.
We can go ahead and take care of that in this time in history so that it doesn't come up again," says Brister.
"The families are why we fight. The families are why we defend freedom," says Young.
A third round of the AVCRAD unit is preparing for deployment later this summer.