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Military Unit Returns From Running Ebola Labs In Liberia

ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ) -- Back home from the Ebola hot zone. A group of nearly two dozen local soldiers safely return from West Africa, where they battled the Ebola outbreak.

Tracey Leong has more on their emotional homecoming.

The soldiers spent four months battling at the forefront of the Ebola mission. And after being quarantined for 21 days, they were anxious to be reunited with loved ones.

Saluting the 22 brave men and women who risked their lives battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The soldier-scientists, testing more than 4,500 suspected Ebola samples in Liberia, worked to stop the spread of the deadly disease in West Africa that has infected 24,000 people, killing 10,000.

While the mission had many challenges, it was very difficult for the soldiers to see a country ruined by the disease.

"Heartbreaking at first. But we knew we had a mission to do and we just stuck to it and got through it," said Sgt. Major Kenneth Petty.

Sgt. Major Petty and his daughter were both part of the mission to end Ebola. Keira Petty returned from West Africa when her father deployed in November.

"Makes you appreciate every single thing you have here in America," she said.

And for many returning heroes, it was their families they couldn't wait to hold.

"Missed Thanksgiving, Christmas and daughter's birthday, but, it's great to be back," said Captain Sean Palmer.

"We're always a family no matter where he is, but we just feel a little more complete now," his wife, Heather Palmer, said.

Family and friends are thankful for their safe return from this dangerous mission.

"I was nervous. There are always unknowns that you can't plan for," Heather Palmer said.

Now, they're planning for what they can do.

"This one has been asking for daddy to come home and make her pancakes. That's what we are going to do tonight... make pancakes together," Heather Palmer said.

The soldier-scientists operated six laboratories while in Liberia and did not come in direct contact with any patients.

The mission was part of Operation United Assistance.

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