The group of 84 soldiers, 78 military police, and six other personnel arrived in Arlington Heights Friday morning. The Illinois State Police and the Arlington Heights police escorted their buses. Family and friends greeted the service members with hugs and kisses.
The soldiers are from the Chicagoland area, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio, Maryland and Indiana. They performed detention operations in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan over the past 10 months.
Family and friends greeted the service members with hugs and kisses.
"It's so unreal. It's been surreal and I've been waiting forever for this," said Katherine Skomorowski, wife.
Skomorowski's husband, Bart, has been in Afghanistan for 10 months. His 84-soldier unit was there performing detention operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"They've grown up so much and I just can't believe how big they've gotten and they're talking now, too," said Army Specialist Bart Skomorowski.
Army Specialist Brian Bump met his 3-month-old daughter Emma for the first time Friday. She was born while he was overseas. All he wanted to do was hold her, and his Christmas wish was granted.
"It's been hard. I can't believe I am actually home. These girls are my life being away from them -- it was a very big journey, but I'm so happy to be back right now. It's really indescribable," said Bump.
The soldiers originate from the Chicagoland area, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio, Maryland and Indiana. They say they found out they'd be home in time for the holidays just two weeks ago.
"It was a surprise for us. A surprise for our family. It's a great surprise for the holidays," said Army Specialist Darryl Grant Jr.
"I was afraid that something could delay us so I don't wanna think too much into it so luckily we made it," said Army Specialist Jonathan Mazareigos
In meeting the president's intent to have all troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, the likelihood of the unit deploying again in support of Operation Enduring Freedom is minimal, according to military officials.