GREENSBURG, Pa. (March 9, 2010) - Friends, families and fellow Army Reserve Soldiers gathered at the U.S. Army Reserve Center here Sunday to welcome home the 14th Quartermaster Company after a year-long deployment to Iraq .

"I'm anxious, excited, nervous..." said Leslie Long as she awaited the return of her fiancAfA, Spc. Justin R. Fink. "It's been a long year. I can't wait for him to come home."

In a parade-like fashion, the bus carrying the returning Soldiers received an escort from the state police as they passed members of the Patriot Guard and Combat Veterans Association waving American flags.

Passing under an archway formed by ladders of two fire engines, row after row of cheering friends and family members waved signs and flags, some even jumping with excitement as the bus came to a halt.

As Soldiers stepped off the bus, cries of joy erupted from the crowd as the Soldiers charged towards their loved ones and embraced them.

"I was speechless," said Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Campbell, acting first sergeant for the 14th during deployment. "All I could do was shed a tear. I'm glad to be home."

Inside the Army Reserve Center, Soldiers, friends and families were met with ample amounts of food donated by local businesses.

As the official ceremony began, local and state representatives thanked the returning Soldiers for their service and the families for their support. Following a standing ovation from the crowd, Col. Ernest Erlandson, commander of the 475th Quartermaster Group, thanked the unit for a job well done and expressed his pride in their accomplishments.

The 14th helped operate three of the biggest warehouses in Balad, Iraq, said 1st Lt. Sarah Weber, acting commander for the 14th during deployment. Not only was the unit effectively maintaining the supply system within the Iraqi theater, but it also embarked on the largest cleanup mission in Iraq to date.

The Soldiers collected excess, unused equipment and materials from forward operating bases and recycled it into the Army supply system for more effective use, Weber said.

The 14th collected over $250 million worth of excess materials, Campbell said. "It's part of a responsible withdraw from Iraq," he said.

"You've made a difference in the world, and that's something to be proud of," Weber said to her Soldiers before they left with their loved ones, home at long last.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16