Florida Air National Guard troops return home from Afghan deployment

Family members were finally able to reunite with the people they love the most

Published On: Oct 07 2012 06:43:22 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 07 2012 01:53:01 PM EDT
Homecoming Troops
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

About 100 Florida Air National Guard troops returned home early Sunday morning for a heartfelt reunion with family and friends.

Guardsmen from the 202nd Red Horse Deployment arrived just after 1 a.m. to a heroes welcome at Jacksonville International Airport.

American flags waved and neon-lit motorcycles illuminated the walkway between the airplane and the hangar where family and friends were anxiously awaiting their arrival.

The unit spent over six months in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 202nd Red Horse deployment is an engineering unit stationed at Camp Blanding. Most of the troops live in Northeast and Central Florida.

"Glad to be home. Been a long time. A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. It's overwhelming to see all these people here, and it's great to get a reception like this," Sgt. Terrance Harris said.

IMAGES:  Florida Air National Guard unit homecoming

Harris' daughter said her father missed her college graduation, but made it up to her from halfway across the globe.

"He missed my college graduation, but he bought me a new car as a graduation present, somehow he made that happen from Afghanistan," Jasmine Harris said.

The troops say they've been dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the Afghan people and seeing their loved ones makes the hard work worth it.

After completing a rigorous combat skills course before deployment, the 202nd met up with about 100 other troops stationed in Guam.

Then, the 200 plus guardsmen jointly formed the Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron in Afghanistan.

The troops didn't waste much time at the airport, they all went home with their families for some much needed R&R.