There were plenty of tears and hugs in Newport Saturday, as local soldiers got a joyous welcome back after spending a year in Afghanistan.
All 32 members of the Bravo Company made it home safely. 16 of them celebrated Saturday at Newport's naval base. But this particular homecoming is extra special.
It was heartwarming to watch. Family members were holding their breathe waiting for their loved ones to finally step off their bus. And then many of them bursted into tears when they saw their soldier for the first time.
Mom's, wives, sons and daughters anxiously awaited the return of their loved ones from Afghanistan. It's emotional as they hold each other for the first time. After a year away, it's easy to forget what something as simple as a hug feels like.
"She's finally home and it just goes back to that word relief. I'm just relieved to have her back," said soldier mom MaryAnne Coutinho.
There were a lot of tears when Coutinho saw her youngest daughter, Elyse. But Elyse couldn't even find the words to express her joy.
Then, it was time for all 16 soldiers to unload their bags and get ready to go home, but not before they remember what they came here for, a ceremony where 12 year old Chaz Boisseau pinned a medal of valor on his army reservist dad.
"I'm really happy that my dad's home," he said.
All of the Bravo Company was honored at a building built in Sergeant Michael Paranzino's honor, who died serving in Afghanistan a little over a year ago. His parents were there supporting these soldiers coming home.
"We get something from seeing the smiling faces of the returning soldiers and welcoming them and we also feel like it's our way of providing support to them and their families," said Francis Paranzino.
It's support he said is needed now more than ever. The deaths of two Rhode Island soldiers in the past month is fresh in their minds. Lance Corporal Abraham Tarwoe of Providence died just this week and Sergeant Dennis Weichel of Pawtucket last month.
It's a fate these soldiers' families don't even want to imagine.
"It's very sad," said Kim Boisseau, "It's very sad. My condolences go out to their families because it's hard."