They fought the war and insurgents, and there were injuries, but everyone in their battalion is home. And they were greeted by the loved ones they left behind who spent that time waiting and wondering.
CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier flew home to Fort Campbell, Ky., with the 101st Airborne division, one of the first to come home after serving extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They've missed birthdays, holidays, school plays, births and deaths. Some of these young men haven't been married very long either.
"I'll drop these guys in a heartbeat to get back to my family," says Sgt. First Class Chris Sheffield. "I know they are missing us - that's incentive to get back."
Others got engaged, just before they flew here, like Lt. Dana Krull. He says, "It's just kind of surreal to be going home."
Back home, Krull's mom, Lois Tyrell, and fiance, Addie Church, kept waiting.
Tyrell says, "We would hear of helicopters crashing that is part of the 101st, and our guys were dying, so then you go crashing down, because you don't know."
Church says, "I knew when I hear things like that, I just start to wonder if it was Dana or not."
"Every time you hear someone was killed, you wait. But you can't stop your life," Sgt. Sheffield's wife, Phyllis says. "It just seems that it went on forever; that was our life - without him. You learn to adjust and you just have your routine and you keep on and you just don't think about it. I mean, you think about Daddy's going to be home one day, but when that day will come, we don't know.
And it's hardest on those too young to understand what extended tours of duty mean. The Sheffields son Cas says, "It was hard. I was keeping on remembering him and I was missing him."
But all that was behind them, the minute Sgt. Sheffield stepped off the plane. Families that had become strangers were becoming families again.
And families that are yet to be, like Krull and Church, can get started.
There's one interesting note: The soldiers said they couldn't wait to get away from each other. They've had no privacy for almost a year. They say they know each other way too well. And enough togetherness is enough.