FORT SILL, Okla._Friends and family welcomed 75 soldiers home after a nine-month deployment overseas.
The soldiers are part of the 75th Field Artillery Brigade and were integrated into the U.S. forces stationed in Kuwait. During their deployment, they were also spread out to other Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Jolleen and Michael Sogioka had been married for four months when Michael was sent to Kuwait. At the deployment ceremony, Jolleen Sogioka said she would count down the days until Michael came home.
"Oh, I am ecstatic! All day, I have been waiting for this and then all of a sudden I could see the back of his head when they were in formation. Of course I couldn't see his face cause of the way they were facing, but I knew where he was," she said.
When they released the soldiers, Jolleen found Michael and wrapped her arms around him, not wanting to let go. While overseas, Captain Sogioka says it was difficult to be gone without getting leave to see his family in the middle of the deployment.
"No R and R this time around, so it was a little bit more difficult to get through because you didn't have that little in the middle where you could recuperate and get back and do your thing," Capt. Sogioka said.
Brigade Commander Colonel Nate Cook says he is happy to be able to bring all 75 soldiers home safely to their families.
"We are always happy to be home. Homecomings are fantastic. Now we have so much to be proud of what they have accomplished over the last nine months, but nothing beats coming home on white buses and being able to see your families," Col. Cook said.
The Sogiokas were married in a civil ceremony August 29, 2014. So for the last nine months, Jolleen has been planning a formal wedding ceremony.
"Everything is little details, so it is all coming together. It is all going to be really exciting and I think Michael is kind of grateful he didn't have to do any of the planning," she said.
Sogioka says she is most looking forward to no longer having to worry if her husband is safe.
"Waking up next to him every day and knowing that when he goes to work that I don't have to worry about him not coming home at night," she said.
The couple plans to have their formal wedding ceremony on December 19 in California in front of family and friends.
According to Col. Cook, portions of the unit are expected to be able to stay home for about two years, following this nine-month deployment.