40 Air National Guard airmen welcomed home at 182nd Airlift Wing

By WEEK Reporter

July 8, 2014 Updated Jul 9, 2014 at 7:45 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Dozens of families are back together as 40 members of the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria returned home Tuesday.

The airmen were deployed to Southwest Asia in February, and Tuesday received a big welcome home. It is a proud moment for little Josh Brown and his family.

"My dad is in a different country and he's coming back today," said Josh.

The Brown family is just one of dozens of families waiting for their return -- the 40 men and women who left in February to assist with "Operation Enduring Freedom."

That moment finally came. The sound of the C-130 flying in was greeted with cheers and applause.

"It was very exciting just to watch the planes come in, and the flags on top of it," said Brown's grandmother Joyce Cordor.

Right after stepping off the aircraft. Master Sgt. Benjamin Brown held his loved ones for the first time since February.

"Theyr'e so big, you know. Josh has got a hair cut, Jessie has grown up a bit, and Becca is over there looking all grown up," said Sgt. Brown.

The kids fondness for their father grew too.

"I was excited but just seeing the difference with the kids and just seeing them so excited to see their dad is so rewarding," said Sgt. Brown's wife Manda Brown.

For the airmen, it is a new chapter.

"Mission complete, and now we'll have some time off to enjoy the family," said Sgt. Brown.

Family complete.