KINGSFORD - Family and friends were more than excited to welcome their loved ones back from Afghanistan during a "Welcome Home Troops" ceremony for the 1432nd Engineer Co. on Thursday.
Izayah Reed, 6, and Reihannen Reed, 8, of Randville, hold up a welcome home sign for their aunt, Dawn Bennett of Randville. About 1,000 family, friends and community members welcomed home soldiers from the 1432nd Engineering Co. on Thursday.
Approximately 1,000 people gathered at the Kingsford High School to welcome home more than 90 soldiers from the 10-month deployment.
Izayah, 6, and Reihannen Reed, 8, of Randville, hold up a welcome home sign for their aunt, Dawn Bennett of Randville. About 1,000 family, friends and community members welcomed home soldiers from the 1432nd Engineering Co. Thursday. (Iron Mountain Daily News Photos)
Josh and Angela Reed of Randville and their two children, Izayah, 6, and Reihannen, 8, could not wait to welcome home Dawn Bennett of Randville.
"I am extremely proud of her," Angela Reed said of her sister. "Her dog Picasso missed her the most."
Angela Reed added her sister had a surprise waiting at home for her.
"We decorated her house for Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, and left her birthday presents. We also set up a Christmas tree and put presents underneath it," she said.
For Christmas, Reihannen Reed wished for her aunt to be home.
After a two-hour wait for the buses to arrive, Reihannen Reed's 2012 Christmas present finally arrived.
Wearing a bright orange T-shirt that read "I last hugged my auntie 329 days ago," Reihannen Reed had tears in her eyes upon seeing and hugging her aunt.
"It's pretty awesome to be home," Bennett said. "I am really blessed to have such a great family and friends. Even though I don't have kids of my own, I am happy to see my niece, nephew and dog."
Also welcoming Bennett home from her first deployment were her mother Denise Edwards, stepfather Mark Edwards, sisters, and her friends and family.