OKLAHOMA CITY - More than 200 soldiers with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team returned home to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base on Thursday.
Among them Sergeant First Class Preston Crites, 54, who returned from Kuwait.
He was greeted by five of his children and seven grandchildren.
"I had two brand new baby granddaughters, so this was my first chance to see them and touch them and hold them and it was really, really special," Crites said.
The Seminole, Oklahoma man has been in the Army for 36 years, waiting for an opportunity to deploy overseas.
"He's often compared it to playing football," Crites' daughter, Cassie Greenleaf, said. "The deployment is like you finally get to go out on the field and get to practice what you've been learning all these years."
Crites had to fight for the opportunity to serve overseas.
"I received great support from my family and friends and the unit who all helped me to make sure I was medically and physically qualified to go," Crites said.
Crites is planning to retire this October.
"I put on a uniform for almost 37 [years], it'll be 37 in October so it's kind of scary in a way but I look forward to the new life," Crites said.
He said he'd like to do some farming, ranching and spend time with his family.
One more large group of soldiers with the 45th is expected home this weekend.