A local hero is back home with her family.
Army Spc. Megan Heinsen, 20, returned to Jacksonville on Friday after an 11-month deployment in Afghanistan. She was welcomed by the warm arms of her mother, who's been anxiously awaiting her return.
"I'm still in tears," said Lara Guerrero, Heinsen's mother. "I'm so thankful that she's home. I'm mean, I'm shaking."
"I just started crying. I missed her a lot, so it feels great to see everyone again," Heinsen said.
This was Heinsen's first tour. She joined the Army in honor of her late stepdad, who was a Marine. Her mother has been her support system since day 1, even though it hasn't been easy.
"Not knowing, being away, her not knowing what's going on around them," Guerrero said of what the hardest part is. "They can't talk about a lot of stuff."
Now that Heinsen is home, she is looking forward to as much downtime as the Army will allow her to have.
"I'll be home until they decide to call me out again," she said.
The family will soak up as many days as they can. Heinson's mom said even though they don't know what the future holds, the present day is a good one.
"Our soldiers make so many sacrifices, and you know, holidays come and go, they are missing from the table, and I'm glad she's home safe," Guerrero said.
Heinson will celebrate Friday night by going wherever she wants to for dinner with her mom, brother and nana.