Musicians entertain the crowd, waiting anxiously at the Air National Guard Base in Gulfport. Then, the moment arrives. 54 Seabee reservists, many from New York, step off the plane and into the waiting arms of family and friends.
Dennis Downs hugs his wife and says "What's with all the tears and stuff, huh? Oh, it's good to see you".
Several people came a long way to see their loved ones. Dennis Downs says, "I was glad she was able to make it down here. She drove down from New York".
His wife Susan says, " It feels really good. It's been a long trip, a long 10 months".
Members of Seabee Battalion 133 were called up for duty shortly after September 11th. They repaired runways in Afghanistan, built holding cells for Taliban and Al Quaida detainees in Cuba, and helped with construction missions in Puerto Rico.
Dennis Downs says, "We've been half way around the world, starting out in Guam. The guys have been in Afghanistan, just all over, Puerto Rico, Vieques Island".
Those who were sent to Kandahar, will forever remember their mission. Norman LeBlanc says, "It was the most eye-awaking experience I've had in my life. The culture's very different there, just didn't have the basic services that we've come to expect. We did get to watch the Super Bowl there, so that was a good experience".
Now that they've done their duty, the Seabees and their families have a lot of catching up to do. Chris Smith says, "We got married the day before I got activated and haven't seen each other in awhile, so it's very nice to be home".
His wife Amy says, "I'm loving it, so happy he's home".
"We're ready for a honeymoon. It's the first thing on the agenda," said Chris.
George McSpedon says, "I feel great! It's so awesome to be back on American soil, I mean it's unbelievable".
The group was the last wave of Seabee Battalion 133 to come home. Two other groups returned in April. The Seabees will stay on the Coast for at least a week, before they go back to New York.
Several Seabees were also involved in emergency efforts at Ground Zero on September 11th. They'll be honored Wednesday morning by the Gulfport Police Department.