Home was a place much imagined, e-mailed and missed by the remaining eight members of the Danville National Guard Unit 217 since they deployed to Iraq on Valentine's Day, 2003.
Saturday, home became real again.
Under rainy skies, beaming family members lined the drive to the Danville National Guard Armory to celebrate their soldiers' homecoming.
"I didn't sleep too much last night. I think I was up at 5 a.m.," said Treina Miller, wife of Sgt. Wendall D. Miller. Their two sons wore Great American Brass Band Festival T-shirts and hoisted miniature flags while waiting for their dad's arrival.
"(He went) to get all them bad people out of them buildings, but if they're good they could stay," explained his son, Isaiah Miller.
"I'm going to say, I want to get you a hug," said his young great-nephew Tra Carey.
Some young children would see their father for perhaps the first time. Waiting in the arms of his uncle, Michael Krueger was too young to say welcome home but looked on with wide eyes as his father, Spc. Kevin Krueger, arrived in desert fatigues.