Amy Jackson stood anxiously by as she watched and waited for her husband to make his way down the runway.
"I'm excited. I'm blessed that they are all home safely," she said.
Hundreds of family and friends came out to welcome home the men and women of the 1-140th Aviation Battalion. For the past year, they've been serving in central Iraq, supporting the drawdown and various combat missions.
Together, the unit logged more than 15,000 flying hours and was involved in 20 assault missions. But on Monday, they received a hero's homecoming with signs, balloons and tears of happiness.
"It was nice. I had to hold back tears, I was that close to crying," said returning solider Lashaun Medrano.
The wait was too much for the families, who ran into the formation to find their loved ones. Capt. Matt Jackson found his wife and a long overdue kiss.
"It's an unbelievable, amazing, wonderful feeling to be here with family and friends and loved ones, and just get the welcome that we had," said Capt. Jackson. "It's been way too long. I've been away just short of a year and it's time to come home, it's time to be with our families."
Bruce Pulgencio got a big welcome home by members of the Costa Mesa Fire Department, which marked his absence with a Military blue star on their engine. Now back, Pulgencio took great care to remove it, signifying the end of his active duty.
"I am looking forward to it after my leave is finished, I'll hopefully get back in the saddle and serve the community again with the Costa Mesa Fire Department, which is an awesome department. I can't wait," he said.
Many of the soldiers have similar plans: spending time with family and eating at their favorite restaurants.