U.S. troops have done tour after tour, and every homecoming is an emotional family affair.
Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan traveled to Fort Drum for one such heart-warming reunion.
Two-year-old Noah could hardly sit still. His dad was deployed to Afghanistan a year ago, and now nearly half his life had been spent with his dad away.
"He's 2 1/2, so he's not really sure what's going on," Noah's mom said. "He just knows daddy's coming home."
The room on the base at Fort Drum was packed with smiling faces and bright balloons, and it was soaked with tears.
"I'm overwhelmed with joy," Sandra Standford said. "It's unbelievable that we're going to be able to take him home."
"It was a long year," Noah's mom said. "But it's finally here."
And then they arrived, held for a time in tight, military formation. But those returning home turned quickly enough from soldiers to men.
"I'm feeling very fine now that I'm home with my family," one soldier said. "I'm glad to be back."