Holding their welcome signs proudly, dozens at Sacramento International Airport waited for their soldiers to return from Afghanistan Thursday.
The men and women of the 1113th Transportation Company with the National Guard were the only unit to return without being attacked by enemy fire.
For the first time not via FaceTime, 2nd Lt. Daniel Pauley met his 4-month-old daughter, Emma.
“I knew the tears were coming. I felt them on the plane ride just thinking about seeing them. Sheer joy,” Lt. Pauley said.
The same week Pauley learned his wife was pregnant with their fourth child, he also learned he would be sent on his second tour to Afghanistan.
“I was very anxious and just happy he is home safe,” Pauley’s wife, Vanessa, said.
For unit commander Cpt. Walter Wade, the goal was to get all 147 of his men and women back to their families and that he did.
“I tell my soldiers if you are not scared every time you go out the wire then you are wrong. It is what you do with that fear that protects you,” said Cpt. Wade. “You have to treat every mission like it is your first and it could possibly be your last.”
“I did not want to let go. 291 days is a long time,” said Wade’s wife Sonya.
The 1113th are the men and women who protect convoys of equipment and materials.
Thursday, all but five of the soldiers in the 1113th returned home to California.
The final five are waiting on medical clearances.