BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Many Western New York families received an early holiday gift Saturday, as they welcomed home their heroes and loved ones early from a tour of duty overseas.
Members of the New York Army National Guards 105th Military Police Company were serving in Iraq where they trained the Iraqi police in Mosul and Kirkuk.
"[The soldiers] run them through various scenarios that they might face while their acting as police officers; getting them up to speed. Kind of like we would run academy for our police officers here stateside," said 2nd Lieutenant Anthony Pedicone.
A total of 48 soldiers from the Masten Avenue Armory were deployed, and their families and friends waited with excitement for their arrival just after 3:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Kids held signs and waved tiny American Flags, and when the two buses rolled-up, escorted by New York State Troopers and Honor Guard Riders, the good sized crowed erupted with cheers.
"We're just so proud of him and can't wait for him to be home," said Sue Neer, who awaited her son Sgt. Peter Neer to arrive.
After being dismissed, the soldiers and their loved ones ran to each other for an emotional embrace after nearly a year of being apart.
"[My family] didn't really say anything, just hugged me and kissed me to death....it's exhilarating, [I] can't even explain it," described SSGT. Shawn Gourdine, who had his young son and wife, along with a crowd of others waiting to greet him.
It turned out to be a very special early holiday gift for these soldiers and their families, weren't expected to be reunited for another two months. However with the troop draw-down from Iraq, they were reunited early.