SCRANTON -- There was a big welcome home Friday in Lackawanna County as hundreds of National Guard troops from the 55th Armor Brigade returned to their loved ones.
Hundreds of National Guard troops who spent most of the past year deployed to Kuwait have now returned home.
It was an emotional day throughout our area. The men and women come from the Scranton, Lock Haven, Williamsport, Harrisburg areas and beyond.
It was a happy homecoming first at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and then at the armory in Scranton. It was a day filled with many tears, smiles, and a lot of firsts: soldiers returning from their first deployments, and first-time parents returning to see their newborn babies for the first time.
Hundreds of soldiers landed at the airport, unloaded bags, and began the final leg of their journey to the armory in Scranton, bringing an end to their deployment to Kuwait.
These brave men and women were escorted into town with a hero's welcome.
"They're protecting our freedoms and we want to remember that," said Ed Faatz, Friends of the Forgotten.
The riders were excited to help the National Guard members return to the arms of their loved ones.
"Every time I see them hug their kids or their wives or their husbands, it brings tears to my eyes, every time," said Lisa Fumanti Francis, Rolling Angels Armed Forces of NEPA.
The men and women who helped with security operations in the Middle East couldn't wait to meet with their loved ones.
PFC Darin Burrows met his newborn baby girl Lily, happy to hold her for the first time.
"One of the happiest moments of my life, I get to come home to my family, my new baby. It was great."
"There's no words for it," said his wife Alexis Burrows. "It's just nice to have him home again."
Specialist Michael Barber had tears of joy the moment he held his newborn baby Taven.
"I can't even put it into words. I can't."
But for one soldier's wife, she's been anticipating this moment twice as much.
"Wanting him home, and taking care of the girls and looking at them and knowing they haven't met daddy yet. But the big day's here, but I'm excited," said Cortney Humanick, mother of twins.
Staff Sergant Ronnie Humanick hugged and held on close to his twin baby girls Mia and Maddie. He says for the next few months he has only one mission.
"Just playing daddy, just play daddy."
A happy homecoming for the 55th Armor Brigade and one of many more to come.
There are about 1,300 National Guard troops from the 55th Brigade that still need to return home. They are expected to come home within the next few months.