Tearful reunions; 300 soldiers return to Fort Campbell from deployment

For more than 300 soldiers, it sure felt good to be home Thursday.

FORT CAMPBELL, KY - For more than 300 soldiers, it sure felt good to be home Thursday.

Family and friends gathered at Fort Campbell to welcome the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans" back from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

No one out of the crowd of hundreds could feel more pride than one grandmother. Mary Leyh sat in the hangar, waiting for Spc. Shane White.

"I just want to see my boy," she smiled. "I'm so excited. We can't wait. He's a wonderful boy. He's always been my favorite, and I just love him dearly. He's serving the country, and he's protecting us and everybody."

Leyh has lived a life of big homecomings after long waits.

"Yeah, a day is too long," she laughed.

Her son was in the Marine Corps. Now, she waits for her grandson to come home.

"It's hard knowing what's going on," she said. "It's always on your mind."

"He loves a turkey dinner, and he wants one," Leyh continued, laughing. "Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, just about everything. Gravy. Good American food."

The hangar was filled with reunions, soldiers back with the little faces they've missed.

"Do you see him?" asked Leyh, looking through the crowd of uniforms.

Mary didn't see her grandson.

"I don't know," she said shrugging.

Leyh's family stood on bleachers, trying to spot Spc. White over the crowd.

Finally, the crowd parted, and the wait was over.

"Hi darling," she said, embracing her grandson. "I'm so happy to see you."

"I'm so happy to see you," her grandson replied.

"I love you."

"I love you too, Nana."

"It's been a long time. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for your service."

© 2017 NBCNEWS.COM


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