146 Wisconsin soldiers return home from Afghanistan

WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Soldiers from Pewaukee's 372nd Engineer Company returned home on Christmas Eve -- Tuesday, December 24th after a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The engineers served in a variety of positions throughout Southern and Eastern Afghanistan training Afghan Army engineers, supporting Coalition forces, and working on special missions with Australian and Romanian Coalition Partners.

The 146 soldiers were honored at a "welcome home" ceremony at the Waukesha County Expo Center at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The Schmitz family knows what the perfect Christmas gift is! Having their loved one, Sgt. Joel Schmitz home just in time for Christmas!

"I can't even express the emotion," Samantha Schmitz said.

Loved ones of Sgt. Schmitz were among those in the crowd as the soldiers were welcomed home on Tuesday.

"To have Joel home, safe and sound is the best Christmas present ever!" Sgt. Schmitz' mother-in-law said.

Also on hand was Leah Hrbacek -- awaiting her husband, who had never had a chance to hold his newborn son. In fact, her husband requested that no man hold the baby boy until he gets home to do it first.

"Grandpa, great-grandpa, uncles -- everyone is waiting to hold him after today," Hrbacek said.

For this group, getting their brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers home just in time for Christmas was all they could have asked for.

"Honestly, this is all I wanted -- to be home with family and friends," a solider told FOX6 News Tuesday.