MINOT, N.D. - The members of the 69th bomb squadron, all stationed in Minot, landed on base this afternoon to a hero's welcome.
Spouses and children brought posters, stuffed animals and even a dog to welcome their loved ones home from deployment.
April 17, 2018 marks the first time in eight months Senior Airmen Paul Otradovec gets to see his wife and little girl, who he says isn't so little anymore.
"I'm ecstatic to be here because before I left she was barely walking. Now she is running, talking. You miss a lot of things when you are gone and it's so nice to be back,” said Paul Otradovec.
Their love story began four years ago. This is Paul's second and final deployment, and his wife Lauren says they can't wait to take on life as a family again.
"We ran into each other and started dating again. And then he proposed and I moved her and we got married. And it's been… June will be four years,” said Lauren Otradovec.
Their daughter Ellie is a just over a year old and the last time she saw her daddy she was only ten months.
"This morning she woke up and brought me her shoes. So, I thought that was adorable she knew we were going somewhere,” said Lauren.
Dad can finally start making memories in person, rather than seeing Ellie grow up over FaceTime.
"I just want to be home with my family. Every day you try not to have those emotions and get all excited until you’re on that plane coming here because things always get pushed back or moved around,” he said.
Beginning a new chapter in this family's story.
The airmen have been traveling for more than 24 hours and say they are happy to finally be back on U.S. soil.