FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- National Guard troops received a warm welcome home on Thursday afternoon, after being deployed in the middle east for a year.
Families, friends, and loved ones stood outside the National Guard Armory in Fayetteville, greeting the men and women as they unloaded from a bus.
The soldiers are a part of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) and were made up of individuals from North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia Army National Guard.
During their time in Kuwait, the 30th ABCT were a part of supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. This entailed providing M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles to help with the fight against ISIS.
The unit was also mobilized to support the 38th Infantry Division's Task Force Spartan. Their mission was to help partnered nations train and provide stability in the region, according to Lt. Col. Cindi King.
Once the troops unloaded from the bus, there were dozens of hugs, smiles and not many dry eyes.
Catherine Mcrae is the sister of Sergeant Calvin McDonald. She and her family surprised Sgt. McDonald when he got off the bus.
Mcrae tells ABC11 that, although McDonald's first deployment flew by fast, his presence was still sorely missed by his family.
"It's been testing because I knew how much I loved him, but you don't know how much you love somebody until they're gone," Mcrae said.
Mcrae describes Mcdonald as a kind soul with a big heart, adding it was tough not talking to him every day. "It actually made my love for him stronger".
The family's first call to action was to have their first cook-out in over a year, because they wanted to wait until McDonald returned home, since that's one of his favorite things to do.
"It just makes me really appreciate, um, just having him closer to home and everything," Mcrae added.