Christmas comes early for soldiers and their families

By Beau Ebenezer

December 14, 2013 Updated Dec 14, 2013 at 11:43 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Dozens of Army National Guard Soldiers and their families received an early Christmas present Saturday afternoon.

60 soldiers from the 238th General Support Aviation Battalion returned home from Afghanistan.

The unit was deployed in January in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they flew Chinook helicopters for air assault missions along with re-supply operations and maintenance support.

At the welcome home ceremony, several soldiers saw their new-born babies for the first time.

"We found out that we were going to be having her right after he left," said one soldier's wife, Melinda Marshall. "He hasn't been able to see her yet. Today is the first day he gets to see her, so we are excited."

"It's a good feeling," said Staff Sgt. Justin Marshall. "We are ready to come home. We went over there, we did our job, and we worked as hard as we possibly could. Now it's time to be done."

For the time being, the soldiers are back to the part-time role of the National Guard.