Hugs and smiles reunited family members and friends inside a large military hanger at the St. Cloud airport as 70 members of the Minnesota National Guard returned home from nine months duty in Iraq.
Home in time for Thanksgiving, Nathan Skolicki is a Chinook helicopter mechanic returning from his second deployment.
"It's great to be home, be home with my wife and family. Of course being gone for a year, it's nice to be home," Skolicki said.
Last month, President Obama ordered the US military out of Iraq by the end of the year.
Guard members were assisting with the military's drawdown from Iraq. The unit flew 800 missions, moving nearly 50,000 people and more than 7 million pounds of cargo from locations in Iraq to Kuwait.
Helicopter pilot Paul Adamson said the unit closed down several small bases.
"Our job was mainly to move people and equipment around the battlefield, Adamson said. "There's still some threats from Improvised Explosive Devices, so if we can move them by air it's a little bit easier and safer for the guys on the ground."
Adamson's wife, Kim, said even after three separate deployments it's difficult to not have him help around the house, especially with two teenage daughters.
"It was tough dealing with everything by myself, but we've been through it before, so," she said.