JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After being deployed to Southwest Asia for eight months, 100 National Guardsmen returned home to Jacksonville Wednesday night.
Members of the Florida Air National Guard's 202nd Red Horse Squadron held a homecoming near the Jacksonville International Airport.
Many families waited to welcome home their loved ones.
"I'm ecstatic. I'm a little emotional," Guardsmen father Joe Masciulli said.
Joe and hundreds of other families have waited eight long months for loved ones who serve in the Florida Air National Guard to return from overseas.
The homecoming was filled with excitement, anticipation and a lot of emotion as the time of the Guardsmen's arrival neared.
Joe's son, Eric Mascuilli, came home to something extra special. He finally got to meet his 4-month-old son for the very first time and hold him in his arms.
"Amazing. I got to meet my son for the first time. He was born on June 1 so I was already gone and I couldn't ask for a better welcome home," Eric said. "It's still very surreal. I've been gone almost eight months so I'm just glad to be back home. It's been a long long time."
Eric's wife, Erin Mascuilli, felt overwhelmed and excited.
"We waited 148 days," she said. "I'm so proud of him because what he's doing is bigger than us. He took an oath for this country so we're just supporting him."
Erin hopes their son's first word will be "dada." Eric said if son knew what's good for, his first words would be "mama."