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Families Welcome 171st Air Refueling Members Home

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171st Air Refueling Unit members were welcomed home for the holidays at Pittsburgh International Airports. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

171st Air Refueling Unit members were welcomed home for the holidays at Pittsburgh International Airports. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There was a happy homecoming this weekend as family and friends welcomed back members of the 171st Air Refueling Unit at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The servicemen and women returned Sunday from a tour of duty in Southeast Asia.

Stephanie Long waited six months for her husband of just one year to come home.

He and a dozen other members of the 171st Air Refueling Unit came home from an undisclosed location after being deployed in early summer. Their families waited, paced and counted the minutes at the airport for the flight to arrive.

“I think my blood pressure’s like, I don’t even know,” said Long.

“My dad left at the end of June,” said one eager daughter. “I was eight and a half months pregnant, and she came two weeks later. So, I’m glad to have my dad home for Christmas to meet Kendall. “

The unit returned home earlier than originally expected. At one point, they were due back in January, but now they’re here in time to make holiday wishes come true.

“I can’t believe that I’m finally home,” said Kendall’s grandfather. “I saw her through Skype, but now I get a chance to finally hold her.”

“It feels really good to be home,” added Jonathan Grant, one of the returning servicemen. “I was away for six months and missed all of my friends and family. It feels really good to be back.”

It seemed everyone at the airport wanted to welcome them home for the holidays, but of course, it was the loved ones who know more than anyone just how special the homecoming really is.

“It’s the best Christmas ever,” said Long.

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