LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (KABC) -- On Wednesday, dozens of soldiers returned home from Afghanistan where they've been deployed and did what they've been dreaming about for months: spent the evening with their families.
Dozens of families counted down the days until this moment. For some, it marked exactly 223 days away from their heroes.
"There were a lot of really difficult days," said the wife of one solider. "I really, really missed him. Our son missed him a lot."
Lena Eylicio knows the feeling. She's been by Sergeant Major Hank Eylicio's side throughout his 32 years of military service.
They are high school sweethearts.
"We met my freshmen year, his sophomore year," Eylicio said. "He's a great dad. He likes to take care of others before he takes care of himself."
"I'm married to a beautiful woman and have three beautiful children who have supported me throughout this whole ordeal," Hank Eylicio said.
Eylicio is quick to praise the other 74 soldiers on the Special Forces Unit.
"I am extremely proud of the men of A-CO 5 19th," he said.
The Green Berets put it all on the line for one reason. "Afghanistan is a breeding ground in some instances for insurgents such as the Taliban and ISIS," Eylicio said.
Their mission was to disrupt insurgent networks and deny terrorists a safe haven in northern and central parts of Afghanistan. All of the troops returned home safely.
The soldiers landed in Los Alamaitos where their unit is based and returned home safely on Wednesday.
"This is a national unit comprised of police, fire, and those that live within your local community," Eylicio said."Although they are recognized, they are not looking for that. They are looking to give those that are without what we have in the United States of America."
Soldiers return home to Orange County and reunite with families
More TOP STORIES News