Updated: Welcome Home: National Guard Unit Returns to Redding From Afghanistan

POSTED: 3:50 PM Jan 20 2013   UPDATED: 6:18 PM Jan 20 2013
National Guard Homecoming photo
REDDING, Calif. -

Dozens of friends and family members waited at the Redding Airport Sunday for a welcome home celebration for members of the 132nd Engineer Company of the California Army National Guard.

The unit spent almost a year building bridges and other projects in Afghanistan.

The group received a huge welcome as they returned to Redding Sunday afternoon.

132nd Company was part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The soldiers transported, assembled as well as maintained bridges and roadways covering more than 11,000 miles.

For many returning home on Sunday it was all about reuniting with family.

Rusty Chambers, 25, from Corning was happy to see his girlfriend and meet his niece for the first time.

Chambers said he was thankful for the community support, saying he expected the Patriot Guard riders but was surprised by how many people were there to welcome him home.

There were plenty of happy couples on hand like Scott and Tanya Delnero.

"I'm still kind of in shock that he's back, it's been difficult having him gone for the last 11 months. It will be nice to spend time with our two year-old," said Tanya Delnero.

The 132nd's daily operations exposed them to the constant threat of roadside bombs and insurgents.

No one was killed during the tour, however 11 did receive a Purple Heart.

In total more than 140 soldiers in the 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company are set to come home.

An Army National Guard spokesperson said others returned to Chico and more are set to fly into the Redding Airport later Sunday night and on Monday.