FORT HOOD — A few hundred family and friends waited anxiously in the stadium seats at Cooper Field on Fort Hood as they anxiously waited for the returning troops.

Signs and welcome-home balloons were on display as music played over a loud speaker.

“I’m excited to see him, I haven’t seen him in nine months,” said Maggie Gambrell, who was waiting for her best friend to return to Fort Hood.

She and the other family members and friends were there to greet about 100 troops from from Company F, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, which has been in Iraq the last nine months. The soldiers are part of 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, and operate reconnaissance drones such as Gray Eagles.

About 50 soldiers from the division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team also returned home.

After a wait in the cold, four white busses finally appeared and the waiting crowd yelled excitedly. After a brief ceremony, the soldiers were released to their family members.

The company’s nine-month deployment contributed immensely to Operation Inherent Resolve, officials said. During the deployment, the company was behind nearly 14,000 combat flight hours that supported coalition forces in the fight against the Islamic State group. The soldiers provided a variety of attack reconnaissance, security and target acquisition missions.

Roger Botkin drove from Pennsylvania for the event to see his son return to Fort Hood.

“Send them whatever they need and talk to them as much as you can,” said Botkin, an Army veteran and ex-infantryman, on how to support the troops when they are deployed.

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