Updated March 10, 2011 at 4:00 PM CST: The 146 Army Reservists from the 414th Military Police Company served in Afghanistan for 10 months. But their deployment took them away from home for a year.
Today the MP's rolled into Joplin's Army Reserve Training Center on three buses.
Family members carrying signs and flags cheered at their arrival.
They greeted the troops with to give them hugs and kisses.
Unit members come from at least nine different states.
Some reunions were tearful, but it was also a time of relief.
"Make sure everything wasn't too hard on her over here - making sure everything was taken care of really," says Specialist Cody Bailey. "Over there you got your job that keeps you occupied most of the time."
Updated March 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM CST: This morning was an emotional time for friends and family when the 414th Army Reserve troops returned to the Joplin Reserve Center.
The 414th Military Police Company served 10 months in Bagram, Afghanistan but were gone nearly 15 months.
The more than 100 Army reserve members arrived on three buses coming home to the loving arms of wives, parents, children and friends. Members of this unit come from 30 to 40 states including the Four States.
Some were tearful reunions.
Those who served say the job kept them busy but time away means missing life's moments.
"Just seeing how much they've grown while you're gone," says Specialist Cody Bailey. "You keep up with Facebook and in pictures sent though email and stuff like that - it's different."
"It's been pretty tough but we've made it got to stay strong for the kids," says Bailey's wife.
The MP's had a 10 hour bus ride from Indiana to get here to the Reserve Center.
Posted March 13, 2010 at 5:47 PM CST: Hundreds of people are showing their support for the 414th Military Police Company in Joplin. The company is sending 159 troops overseas to Afghanistan after training in Fort Bliss, Texas.
Nearly 1,300 people are filling up the Robert Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University bidding farewell to the 414th Military Police Company.
The Mercer family is not new to deployments. Stoney White is a Vietnam War Veteran and his grandson is heading to Afghanistan.
"This will be his fourth tour, but this is the first time he's had him at home so it's going to be tough on him," says Stoney White.
Sergeant Ryan Mercer is a new father to 20-month old Gabriel.
"It's going to be tough to miss out on a lot of his firsts, and watching how he grows and develops and not being there to help guide him," says Sergeant Ryan Mercer of Webb City.
Wife and mother Lindsay say it's hard to explain to Gabriel, or Gabe as they call him, where daddy goes when he leaves months on end.
"He'll (Gabe) go around the house knocking on the doors and calling for daddy and I just tell him that daddy's at work with the Army," says Lindsay.
Specialist James Whitehead and wife Kayla are new to the farewell ceremonies. This is their first deployment.
"It's nice to know that while people may complain that we are over there I know that I am being supported by everybody here," says Specialist James Whitehead.
The couple says they have to come to grips with a lot of insecurities before the deployment.
"We have worked through a lot of things since we found out that I was deploying so we've come a lot closer," says Specialist Whitehead.
Wife Kayla hopes they will grow closer through the art of letter writing.
"I am not a letter writer but I will become a letter writer so I don't get in trouble for not writing letters," says Specialist Whitehead.
White says he's proud of his grandson and the experience he has with the Army but knows Ryan's heart is back in the states.
"Get over there, get done, and get back to his family and his job," says Stoney White.
"I am trying to stay strong for her and Gabe, but it's tough to get on a plane and see them still standing there," says Sergeant Mercer.
The Mercers say that the last night together will be spent like any other night. Just lounging around the house enjoying each others' company.
The 414th Military Police Company will leave for training in Fort Bliss, Texas Sunday morning.
After the 6 week training the troops will head to Afghanistan for detention operations working at an internment facility.
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