PHOENIX - Nearly two dozen members of the Arizona National Guard's Air Ambulance unit returned home Wednesday from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.
Susan Hayes arrived early to the ceremony, making sure she got a front row seat for her husband Troy's homecoming.
After being apart an entire year, Susan didn't want to wait even a single second longer.
"A lot of anticipation for these guys," said Susan Hayes.
The Arizona National Guard's Air Ambulance unit successfully rescued more than 1,800 patients from the battle fields of Afghanistan.
All 23 soldiers who deployed a year ago, returned safely home Wednesday afternoon.
"Total weight off your shoulders," said Captain Justin Douglas. "As a commander, you're always worried about every call that goes out. You're worried if they're going to come back. They continued to come back."
When the time came, Susan Hayes and her kids ran to greet Troy, showering him with hugs and kisses.
"He's my hero," said Susan Hayes. "I couldn't be more proud of anyone in my whole life. He's my hero."
Others at the Papago Park Military Reservation felt the same way.
Crystal Pearson, an Arizona National Guard member herself, gave her brother Craig a hero's welcome home.
"I cried when he left, I cried when he got back," said Crystal Pearson. "I was happy."
Those tears also flowed freely on the face of Robert Hayes.
His son's sacrifice made him one proud dad.
"I'm just glad he's home," said Robert Hayes.
Perhaps not as glad, however, as Sgt. Hayes himself.
Being back on Arizona soil and in the loving embrace of his family left Sgt. Hayes feeling 'fantastic.'
"I don't have words," said Sgt. Hayes. "Indescribable."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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