BOISE, Idaho — Soldiers in the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team stepped off the plane at Gowen Field after being deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
Family members were eagerly waiting in the rain for their sons, daughters, wives and husbands to return after being gone for an entire year.
"The past year just doesn’t seem real," said SSG. Andrew Cruz. "It seems like a blur and now that I’m back home I’m ready to get back to my family and live life again."
The Idaho National Guard had around 100 soldiers return to the Treasure Valley and around another 100 who went to other areas of Idaho.
The soldiers served as a reaction force and they were relieved by other members of the Idaho National guard who deployed in August, Operation Fill the Box is currently trying to raise money and supplies to send every soldier over there a care package for the holidays.
This group called Task Force Griz successfully finished their mission led by the Montana National Guard which had soldiers from Idaho, Nevada and Florida.
"Words can’t describe the feeling you have when you step off the plane and you make eye contact with your family members for the first time, said Brig. Gen. Farin Schwartz. "It's a good day to be in the Idaho National Guard."
It's also an emotional day for family members who welcome back their loved ones, the Parrish family flew in from Spokane to surprise their son on this special day.
"I’m the kind of mom who has always told my kids I’m their biggest fan and I would not miss something like this," said Amy Parrish. "I wouldn’t want him to come back with no one to greet him."
Because these men and women deserve a heroes welcome for not only representing Idaho, but also our country. The troops spent the past ten days at Fort Bliss in El Paso so they were surprised by the weather after spending so much time in the desert.
"I didn’t expect the rain, I came from 110 degrees and now it is 32 degrees," said Cruz. "It's quite a transition, but I got my family here and I'm really happy to see them."