Soldiers return home from Afghanistan on Wednesday. (Photo: Marlisa Goldsmith, THV11)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Soldiers are returning home from Afghanistan this week, but not to a large welcome ceremony that was planned.
"I'm literally shaking. It's an unbelievable feeling," Ashley Felton described.
Many are have been counting down the days, minutes, and now seconds, anticipating the moment their loved ones round that corner. Friends and family of the soldiers welcomed them with signs, snacks, hugs and kisses.
"I mean, honestly, we all got together and huddled, like I don't really know what's going to happen when we come around this corner," specialist Hunter Graves said.
"So glad to have my grandson home," said one woman with glee.
Many of these soldiers are used to being welcomed by a large group and celebration. "A lot of people, loud, fun," are all words Travis Dobbins uses to describe the last "welcome home" ceremony he attended when he returned from deployment. This time, however, was a bit different.
"We kind of deep down knew with everything going on it probably was going to happen," Graves said.
Soldiers were supposed to return together on a charter flight, but because of the government shut down, they are traveling on separate commercial flights. Also due to the shutdown, soldiers said military officials were forced to cancel the ceremony scheduled for Wednesday.
"I mean, this will do for me. Look at the sign. That's my celebration," Graves reflected. "At the end of the day, we just want to get home to see our family."
Being surrounded by the ones they love, the most is all these soldiers say they need.
"Like I said, I'm just happy to be home. I'm pretty sure the government will get things together, and we'll have the ceremony soon," Dobbins added.