DES MOINES, Iowa -- It's been a long time since the Iowans gathered at the Des Moines International Airport had seen the faces of these seven airmen of the Iowa Air National Guard.
"Yep, seven months! So, it's been a long seven months," said Christina Pfohl, the girlfriend of Brandon Britt, one of the airmen returning home.
Friends and family lined the airport with signs to give these men a warm welcome home Sunday afternoon.
"It's awesome," said Britt. "I was supported by a lot of good friends and family members and my unit back here, and her, so that made it a lot easier. This was my first deployment."
These airmen were deployed in the Middle East in a squadron with six other members - those guys were returning home Sunday as well, but had to wait for the next flight.
"Well, having deployed three times myself, this is what it's all about," said Sgt. Rick Day, a supervisor to the group. "When they come home, and walking down those stairs specifically, and seeing the smiling faces, and seeing the tears in one another's - your eyes, your buddy's eyes, your families' eyes - I think the entire six to seven months you're gone, that's what you're looking forward to."
Family members say the best way they can describe the feeling is to say they are "relieved."'
"It was just really nice, him being gone for so long," said Britt's sister, Maegan Marmon. "We were just really worried about him, and with everything going on, we're glad to have him here on our soil again."
"It's overwhelming to not know what he's going through, day to day, so it's nice to have him home, when we can check on him whenever we want to," said Jordyn Hill, another sister to Britt.