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      National Guard Unit returns to emotional homecoming

      There were smiles from ear to ear and not a dry eye at Owosso High School where hundreds hugged, kissed and welcomed home members of the 144th Military Police Company.

      Anxious family and friends greeted 153 soldiers with a special homecoming ceremony at Owosso High School.

      They reunited with a loved ones coming home after serving nine months in Afghanistan.

      Some, even meeting for the very first time.

      Amanda Burns was waiting for her husband to return Thursday, "been waiting for this day since he left."

      Her three-month old daughter, Emma was waiting to be held by her dad for the first time.

      "It's going to melt his heart," said Burns.

      In Afghanistan, the 144th Military Police Company advised local police and provided security to high-ranking officials.

      Back home, home-made signs waited to greet them when the 153 members arrived.

      "Just relief like the weight of the world is off my shoulders. It's the best feeling ever," said Autumn Hintsla, whose mom returned home.

      Zebulan Smith held her son, Specialist Ryan Smith, when she saw him for the first time. "I'm just glad he's safe and he got so thick. He's a man. His cheeks, just everything ya know," she said.

      Captain John Vandusen said he was very proud of the company.

      "We've been waiting for this for a long time and now that we're here it's just great to be here and see our families," said Vandusen.

      And after nine months, Thursday night they'll be holding those family members a little closer.

      While deployed, 11 members received the Bronze Star Medal, five soldiers received the Combat Action Medal and one Purple Heart was awarded.