HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - These men and women, patiently waiting, epitomize their state's nickname.
"It's been an honor," said Captain Robert Byrd.
Back on US soil, about 300 soldiers from the Volunteer State are one step closer to home.
"It's wonderful. It's nice to see a tree again," said Sergeant Elvin Currey.
They're members of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Tennessee and before they return to the comforts of home, they'll first spend about 5 days at Camp Shelby, where they trained, going through the demobilization process.
"We've got soldiers from 8 different armories across Middle and East Tennessee and they all came together and did a great job," said Byrd.
Their job since February, was convoy security in Iraq. About 3,000 troops with the 278th were deployed, now returning to Camp Shelby in waves and as a much stronger unit from when they first started.
"We all came in as strangers. I remember when we first met, nobody know everybody, we kept to ourselves and everything and over the past 8 months, we've actually grew and it feels just like home with these fellows," said Specialist Peter Lanfair.
Now these men and women will leave one family and return to another and a life they put on hold.
"Feels good to be back home, live an ordinary life for a little bit, until it's time to put it back on again," said Specialist Lee Tillman.
"I want to drive my car for a change instead of a military vehicle, spend some time with my daughters, I haven't seen them for 5 months," said Currey.
"It's great to be back home and looking forward to seeing family and friends," said Byrd.
And they'll cherish every moment, not knowing when they could be called back.
"I'm trying to set a good example for the community, my children, my family, it's long line of histories. It's actually descended down all the way as far as I can remember. We've just always been a military family," said Lanfair.
Even with being away from everything they know, while overseas, there's a common bond that keeps these heroes motivated.
"Support has been great," said Byrd.
"It's what really helps us keep going and it really makes what we do worthwhile, knowing we have all that support," said Lanfair.
Support from all over the country, and all of it home grown.
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