Hundreds of family and friends turned out Thursday to welcome home the men and women of the 116th infantry brigade. There were American flags flying and lots of tears flowing during a very emotional day.
Elizabeth Hampton, whose dad Michael, just returned from Iraq, says, "I really need him and he hasn't been here for a long time so yeah, it’s been kinda hard."
Her mom, Theresa Hampton, says it's been a long eight months away from him.
Theresa adds, "This is too long, in all honesty, six months, seven, eight. Yeah, were too long."
All of that changed once Staff Sgt. Michael Hampton walked off the bus. He says he missed his family, but values the time he spent serving our country.
He says, "It's great. I just love it. It was awesome. The whole thing was awesome."
In addition to making up for missed time, Michael says he now wants to support his wife who gave up so much for him to serve in Iraq.
He adds, "She's supported me so much. This is my fourth mobilization and she's been my back bone here back home. So it's my turn to give thanks to her."
The family says Thursday was one of the best days of their lives.
Elizabeth comments, "It was very emotional. I wasn't expecting to cry that much, but I guess I'm so just relieved it just sorta all came out. I’m just so relieved to have him home."
Twelve-year-old Christopher Hampton sums it up the best when he says, "Yes, he's a great man, that he served our country, so yes, I am proud."