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They've been waiting for this day for more than a year. Nearly 200 Kentucky National Guard soldiers are back in the Bluegrass after a tour of duty in Iraq.
The soldiers of Bravo Battery got a hero's welcome this afternoon during a ceremony in their honor. Family and friends packed the Frankfort Civic Center to greet their loved ones with hugs and tears of joy.
"That is nothing as exciting as today, is it? Welcoming Bravo Battery home," Governor Steve Beshear said at the ceremony.
The 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Unit returned to the arms of family and friends this afternoon. The 180 soldiers took part in more than 150 combat missions along with other duties in Iraq. All of the soldiers expressed relief at being home finally.
"It's great to be home. With the exception of the birth of my children, this is one of the greatest days of my life," Colonel Michael Giltey.
Not everyone made it back from the mission to Iraq. Two members of 138th died in combat. They are Staff Sergeant Delmar White and Private First Class Sammie Phillips. A dozen soldiers from the unit were injured as well, but all those hurt have returned to Kentucky.
There are currently more than a thousand Kentucky Guardsmen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.