The South Dakota Air National Guard's 114th Security Forces Squadron has returned from its mission in Southwest Asia. The second of two groups to came home Wednesday night.
Twenty-seven airmen left for the mission in April. They left jobs and their families. On their homecoming those families were there to welcome them with open arms.
Grace Olson was among the crowd. With her welcome home sign in hand, Grace had a hard time being patient for her father, Jerime, to walk down the ramp to the Joe Foss Field atrium.
“I'm going to jump on to him saying, daddy, daddy, daddy! I miss you so much!” Grace said.
Dozens of families all filled the building. Most of them carrying welcome home balloons and signs. They have all watched months turn into days, which dwindled to mere minutes before their airmen were home again.
“I don't think any of our emotions are at the top yet. It'll hit once he walks down the elevator,” Grace Olson’s grandmother Pennie Ogden said.
The crowd cheered at the first glimpse of the troops walking into the terminal.
“You've been thinking about this moment for a long, long time now. It just doesn't feel real. It feels amazing,” Grace’s dad Jerime Olson said.
If being on home soils brought Olson joy, wrapping arms around his daughter was down right euphoric.
“We've basically taken three days to get home. The last 20 minutes was the longest,” Olson said, “It feels good. I'm tired. It's going to be good to be in my own bed and then cuddle with this one.”
For Olson and for everyone else, those last moments away have given way to the happiness only a homecoming can bring.
While overseas the Airmen supported Operation Enduring Freedom, performing security support duties, law enforcement, and force protection for U.S. Allies.