MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- More than 200 airmen from Madison's 115th Fighter Wing arrived back on American soil Saturday afternoon and went home with their families.
The airmen were deployed to Afghanistan in July to support NATO allies and Operation Freedom Sentinel. More than three months later, they finally came back home.
"My son...or his daddy will be home today," said Marg Brickl, who was waiting for her son with her 4-year-old grandson Drake. "I'm extremely proud of him," she added.
Brickl and her grandson were among hundreds of family members waiting to welcome home their loved ones after nearly four months.
Brickl was joined by her friend Elaine Trentadue, who was waiting to see her neighbor touch down safely.
"I have Cassie, who is like a daughter to me, she's coming home today," Trentadue said. "Very happy to see all of them come home."
For Brickl, this was not her first time waiting for her son to come home.
"My son has been gone on several deployments, this is his seventh, but it isn't any easier than the first one was, and I know my son really misses his little boy," she said.
Like Brickl, Trentadue said their loved ones' absences are hardest on the children.
"Cassie being gone, because she has a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, it's been really hard," Trentadue said.
Brickl and Trentadue are not the only ones who see the impacts on their loved ones' young children.
"There's lots of 'Where's Daddy?" or questions about Daddy?" said Samantha Moen, holding one of her kids.
Moen is also part of the 115th Fighter Wing. Her husband and brother were both deployed to Afghanistan. While her brother came home on Saturday, Moen said she would have to wait a few more days to see her husband.
"When you're the one at home, it's hard because you have to deal with everything and you have to constantly be asking people for favors," Moen said.
Even though it is hard, Moen and others said they are proud of the way their family members are serving their country.
"It's an honor for us to be here today," Trentadue said.
For the hundreds of people watching for their loved ones, seeing their parents, children or spouses come home again makes the long wait all worth it.