FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Local soldiers are home with their families after being deployed for most of the year. The 133rd Military Police Company was greeted by hundreds Sunday morning at a Welcome Home ceremony in the Florence Veterans Park.
"It was very emotional for me, I'm very touched and it was an honor to be able to come and thank them in person and not just watch it on television," expresses Jennifer Favour, a missionary from Africa attending the ceremony.
The National Guard Unit is back from a mission in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"It's probably the most surreal experience you're ever going to get. It's really hard to explain, there are no creature comforts, there's no such thing. You just have to focus on what you're doing and do your job, make sure everyone comes home…get everyone back to their families which is the most important thing," says James Grevley, a specialist with the 133rd Military Police Company.
The unit, nicknamed the 'Palmetto Regulators,' was training Afghan Security Forces.
"It's a bittersweet time with the loss of their soldiers. We're just thinking and praying for those families today that were not able to receive their loved ones here today," says Gwen Bryant, the mother of the Captain for the 133rd M. P. Company.
Three members were killed and five were wounded during a suicide blast in June. Their memories were on the mind of everyone attending Sunday's ceremony.
"It is just tremendous, what it means to be an American. And the freedom that we have and the sacrifices they've made and these people who have prayed, and sent packages. We're just forever grateful," expresses Ms. Bryant.
It was a very emotional day for many people at the homecoming. People attending the ceremony said it was a celebration; to honor the soldiers who sacrificed some, and to remember the soldiers who sacrificed all.
"We're just so proud of the sacrifices they've made for a year. We're just so blessed and very thankful," says Ms. Bryant.
The South Carolina National Guard has more than 11,000 soldiers and airmen who serve.