878th Engineer Battalion returns home

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - 170 Guardsmen are back on American soil safe and sound, after deploying to Afghanistan nearly a year ago. The brave men and women of the 878th Engineer Battalion were greeted by family members and friends around midnight Saturday at the Georgia Army National Guard Armory.

"First you count months, then you count days and then you count hours," Leslie Nelson, Chaplin for the Georgia National Guard said.

Wife Robin Lorenz said she's thrilled her family is back together and her two boys have their dad back.

"They woke up this morning and said, "Mommy, can we mark an x on the calendar?" and I said yes, Daddy's coming home. I don't even think Christmas is going to be as good as this."

For the Heiser family, they couldn't hug their guardsman Christopher Heiser soon enough.

"We've been cooking, cleaning and getting everything ready."

Guardsman Heiser met his seven month old nephews, identical twins, for the first time.

He said, "It feels great. It does."

Guardsman Josh Hicks was ready to run to his family, too.

"I just couldn't wait to get home. You know, you can't wait. It's exciting."

Nelson said she knows deployment, because she's done it herself and helps coach other people through it. But even for her, there were still unknowns that made waiting for her boyfriend to come home this year even tougher.

Nelson said, "The hardest part has been the last couple of weeks. He's not in Afghanistan, he's traveling and there's no wireless."

She said now, they're going to relax and get back into everyday life.

"We just found him an apartment, so we're going to paint, cook and build a couch."

Some families said this has been their shortest deployment. Many Guardsmen have been away from their families multiple times, some for 15 months.