In order to get to the armory, the 333rd passed through downtown Freeport. Family and friends started lining the streets early and waited patiently in the rain.
But just before the unit arrived, the showers ended and the cheering started. Once the bus filled with troops was in sight there was no way to hold back. This exciting day has been long overdue for family, friends and the community.
Friday afternoon, business in downtown Freeport stopped. Employees stepped outside in the pouring rain to thank the 180 members of the 333rd National Guard unit for giving up their daily routine for us.
Through the tinted bus windows these soldiers read messages like "welcome home, job well done" or just a simple "thanks" loud and clear.
For one last time the unit stood united in the same formation as they did in February 2003, except this time there's not the uncertainty of the unknown. Instead it's a sense of accomplishment.