FT. BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Two hundred soldiers are with their families after returning from a ten month deployment to Iraq. With Thursday's homecoming, now more than 600 Third Brigade soldiers are back at Ft. Benning with their loved ones.
This is the third return this week, and you may not know a lot of preparation goes on behind the scenes to make sure the celebration goes off without a hitch.
These military family members know the routine of their soldiers returning home... And it's a lot of sit around and wait. But some organizations try to make that transition time a little easier.
"I just heard one of the wives say "we don't have money to go out and eat" so we told her to fill up here," said Sharon Lyon with the American Red Cross.
At every deployment and return the American Red Cross is there to offer a kind word and a snack or two.
Lyon added, "This coming home part is filled with joy and we want to be here to share it with them and to help them get back together as a family."
And the families aren't the only ones getting help. The soldiers have a friendly staff of customs officers that help with a speedy check-in.
Fort Benning Customs Inspector Anthony Montgomery told News Leader 9, "Our responsibility is to make sure we check the aircraft and the passengers, or the soldiers, coming back into the country to make sure nothing is brought back into the country that shouldn't be here."
Once they are finished with that step, the soldiers are one step closer to being reunited.
Montgomery said, "It normally takes 30 to 40 minutes then the soldiers are with their families."
Families like the Jones's who are anxiously waiting for the check-in to be complete. Damika Jones said, "I'm about to jump out of my skin. I haven't seen him in four and a half to five months. He got to come home a little early, so we're really happy about that. But he has to go back to work on Monday, but we're so excited."
And finally, it's time to find their soldier. Damika's five year old son Jarquez exclaimed, "Daddy!" and then embraced his family.
Over the next two or three months even more 3rd Brigade soldiers will be returning to Ft. Benning from their overseas deployment, bringing that same joy and excitement you just saw to hundreds more families.