Members of the 333rd Engineering Company of the U.S. Army Reserves based out of Reading returned from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan Tuesday afternoon.
Their Delta charter flight touched down at Harrisburg International Airport around 3:45. The soldiers then loaded their luggage directly onto buses on the tarmac.
The company did grueling work while deployed, including road construction and airfield maintenance.
Specialist Christopher Gotwals, 19, of Millersville said he was most looking forward to seeing his mother and enjoying some home cooking.
"Beyond excited. It's been a long time," he said. "I miss my family -- miss my friends. Glad to be back in Pennsylvania."
Several of the 145 soldiers returning were prepared to meet their new babies for the first time.
"Six months ago, September 5th, my baby boy Travis was born -- my first boy, my first child," 26-year-old Specialist Jeremy Brendel said. "It's pretty exciting. I haven't seen him yet so my wife's been taking care of him. We Skyped a lot so he could learn the sound of my voice."
The company was greeted by a small group of fellow soldiers at the airport, but were later welcomed home to a full celebratory parade with fire police and motorcycles near their armory in Shillington, Berks County.
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