Sunday was a day of celebration for about 100 soldiers returning to Central Texas. The 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, returning from Afghanistan, held a ceremony this weekend, changing its mission and command.
Joanna Wollenberg couldn't help but smile during Sunday's festivities. She's been serving in Kabul, Afghanistan, for almost a year, and she couldn't wait to get home to see one little person.
Wollenburg’s daughter Gabrielle turns 6 next week. The mom and soldier missed almost a year of time with her and almost 12 inches of growth.
"The one thing I wanted to see was everything in Texas, but especially this little girl," Wollenburg, the outgoing company commander of the 136th Brigade, said. "Coming home was the sweetest thing, and seeing her and being able to spend time with her and seeing how big she has gotten while I was gone."
For others in the brigade with kids, serving overseas is tough, but technology made it easier.
"The fact that we had internet helped because we were able to Skype and communicate with them, but just being around my kids is what I missed the most," Sgt. Danesh Chowritmootoo said.
The welcome home ceremony was a symbolic one since the troops came home in June. Since their homecoming, family has come first.
"I've spent the summer with my kids, sent my daughter back to school, took a road trip with my son,” Chowritmootoo said. “So, those are the things that you miss, that you kind of look forward to."
They honorably served their country, but now it's time to be with family.
"The most important thing is that I'm home now and here for her birthday party next week," Wollenberg said.
The brigade's mission is now focused on serving during natural disasters in the U.S. They will assist civil first-responders during earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or fires.