WILLIAMSTOWN - A sea of red, white and blue greeted returning members of the 1092nd Engineer Battalion of the West Virginia National Guard during Friday's homecoming at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.
Some of the family and friends who traveled to the airport said they had been waiting for hours to see their loved ones who had been in Afghanistan for almost one year.
Lynn Griffith of Parkersburg said she and her family arrived at the airport early Friday to greet her nephew, Nathan Thompson.
The 1092nd Engineer Battallion of the West Virginia National Guard returns.
"It has been a long time since we've seen him," she said. "We got here at 8:30 a.m. and it feels good to know he will be home."
Thompson's father, Gary, said he had not been able to speak to his son, saying they communicated through e-mail messages.
Griffith said during the past year, the family was worried about him. She said every time they heard about casualties in Afghanistan, they held their breath until they knew he was not hurt.
Capt. Jimmy King gives a kiss to his wife, Cristy, while he holds his daughter, Aurora, and son, Abraham. Abraham was born while King was in Afghanistan. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Six-year-old Emily Lawrence stands with her mother, Staff Sgt. Deborah Lawrence, prior to being greeted by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the West Virginia Army National Guard adjutant general. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"He's probably glad to be back so I won't bother him with several messages," she said.
A Saturday outing was on the minds of the Long family of Parkersburg. Lonnie Long Sr. said the golf outing with his wife, Amy, and son, Lonnie Jr., was something he was looking forward to after a year away from home.
He said he did not have too many other plans at this time.
"I haven't decided on everything," Long said. "But we are going golfing tomorrow."
Bethany Christy of Vienna held a sign expressing the sentiments of many family members at the airport. Her sign read "Yippee-This deployment is OVER!" and her daughter, Ashlynn, had a sign that read, "If you get between me and my daddy ... I will RUN U OVER."
Christy said she and Ashlynn were glad Billy, a staff sergeant, was back home and would be back for a long time. Christy said it was hard with him being away but they were used to it.
"This is our second deployment so we are used to it," she said.
Christy said the last few days seemed to drag as she waited for her husband to come home.
"It just dragged for me," she said, "Those last five minutes were awful until I saw him."
Janice Anderson of Sandyville was not there to meet one family member but three.
"I have two grandsons and a nephew in that unit and we're here to welcome them home."
Anderson said her grandsons were Spc. Nathan Spaur and Warrant Officer 1 Ben Stanley and her nephew was Lt. James Anderson, all of Parkersburg.
"It's a great day and we are so excited," she said. "We are so glad to have them back with us."
Nathan Spaur said he was looking forward to what he called real food.
"It's great to be home," he said. "I can't wait to get some real food when I get home."
Anderson said she had another highlight to remember the day.
"I got to meet Governor Tomblin," she said. "I met Gov. Manchin once before and now Gov. Tomblin, a second bonus for the day."