PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - It was a celebration Thursday as the soldiers from the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 859th Vertical Engineer Company arrived back in Pascagoula.
While community members lined the streets to wave at the buses of soldiers, family members waited right outside the fence at the Guard’s Armory to welcome home the soldiers.
It was an emotional moment for loved ones of the soldiers as they anxiously awaited. Butterflies swirled in the stomach of military spouse Amanda Whatley as she waited with her children for her husband to arrive.
“Just a ball of nerves. I’ve been with him for 14 years and it feels like I’m just meeting him for the first time almost," said Whatley. "I have a whole different perspective of this and it’s amazing what they do. we’re blessed. We’re blessed as a country.”
Proud parents, spouses, and children held signs welcoming home their soldiers. Many cheered loudly, including Brenda Kelley, who was there to welcome home her son.
“Thank God they all made it home and especially this one, especially this one," said Kelley. "Very proud of everything that he’s accomplished for our country and I’m just very excited to have him home now. I can go home and cook for him, fatten him up a little bit.”
Sharing stories with his brother is what Quindarius Brashears looked forward to the most after so much time apart.
“I’m just really excited to see my brother. I haven’t seen him in a year," said Brashears. "We got a lot of catching up to do right now.”
And for the soldiers who are finally back home after being gone for so long, it’s the little things they look forward to the most.
“The creek, my dog, food for sure." said soldier Gabriel Kelley. "Good home cooked food. I could go on forever about that.”
The group of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and mechanics have been gone for nearly year, training and serving in the Middle East, where they were tasked with completing construction projects that benefit U.S. soldiers serving as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.