'The best feeling:' 18th Airborne troops come home

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There were hugs and smiles and gleeful anticipation all around Friday as a wave of troops came home.

This is a day that Fort Bragg families have been thinking about and waiting on for more than a year.

Friday afternoon, the first wave of 18th Airborne Corps soldiers marched into a sea of screams of joy and welcome-home hugs and kisses at Pope Army Airfield.

The troops spent from nine to 13 months in Iraq, helping oversee the fight against ISIS.

The 18th Corp commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, led the coalition of 73 nations and organizations in that fight, including the liberation of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

It's a proud accomplishment, the troops were told today, but the fight continues.

Right now, all these soldiers and their families want to do is to make up for lost time.

"Excited, overwhelmed, joy," said one Army wife. "All the emotions. They are happy tears, by the way."

Another Army wife noted: "My 2-year-old's vocabulary just skyrocketed. When my husband left, he was not speaking, and now, he is in full sentences."

As one soldier said, and he might as well have spoken for them all, "just happy to be home. It's the best feeling in the world."

It's a feeling that was shared hundreds of times Friday, in what is a way of life for the troops and their families.

Fort Bragg officials told ABC11 that additional 18th Airborne Corp troops will be coming home in waves from Iraq during the next several weeks.

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ABC11 speaks with Luke Barefoot after his return home.

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