LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Loved ones at White Sands Missile Range welcomed home the 573rd Clearance Company from their nine-month deployment in Afghanistan Monday morning.
The 126 soldiers deployed last July tasked with finding and clearing improvised explosive devices.
"We're just so grateful for the work that they've done in support of our nation's military and we couldn't be more proud," said WSMR commander Major General Gwen Bingham.
The company was dropped off by bus at the gymnasium at the range.
Families eagerly awaited with welcome home signs to see their loved ones for the first time in nine months.
Cheers erupted as the soldiers entered the building and families spotted their soldier.
"When it's your boy you know how they walk, you know how they carry themselves, you see them the minute they come in," said Lori Mills.
Mills's son Spc. Jordan Mills returned home from his first tour of duty. He was greeted by his 4-year-old son Landan.
"He was jumping at my feet," Mills said with a big smile on his face. "I didn't even see him come out of anywhere so it kind of took me by surprise."
However, the return of the 573rd Clearance Co. did come with a heavy heart.
The company lost Sgt. Tristan Wade, 23, in late March after his unit was attacked by an explosive.
"It's great to be home with the family, but sad that we left one of our comrades back in the country," said Sfc. Patrick Smith.
Bingham acknowledged Wade's death before the company was dismissed.
"We want to make sure his family knows we appreciate his selfless commitment to the service of our nation in support of our military missions and we will never forget him or his family," Bingham said.