Smiles, tears at soldiers' homecoming in Belton - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Smiles, tears at soldiers' homecoming in Belton

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BELTON, MO (KCTV) -

Americans enjoyed a three-day weekend and found all sorts of ways to celebrate Labor Day.

But one group in Belton had extra reason to celebrate Monday, as their loved ones are back home after serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The soldiers of the 603rd Military Police Company were welcomed home with bundles of love at the Belton Army Reserve Center.

Loved ones waited a year overall, but before they could touch, there was a moment of silence for fallen soldier Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Rhea, who drowned while trying to cross a body of water during combat operations.

But the rest arrived whole, something no one could take for granted.

"This is my fourth time, so each time I come back it gets a little bit better," Sgt. Maj. Brent Heald said.

The soldiers were happy to see their family again after a year of being gone.

Spc. Brad Langdon was greeted by a gaggle of nieces and nephews.

"Brad doesn't have any children yet, but I told him when he gets back he has to give me some grandchildren," the soldier's father, Gary Langdon, said.

Photos also showed those who welcomed them overseas.

"A lot of the people there are very kind, very warm," Spc. Matthew Kahmann said.

But each of them also returned with a reminder, an engraved bracelet, to remember their fallen comrade. 

Rhea lived with his wife and three daughters in Liberty where his wife is a teacher. He was originally from Oakley, KS.

"We are just thankful that we were able to bring everybody else back and we'll never forget," Heald said.

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