Spcs. Joey and Lori Simon returned home Saturday afternoon to the chorus of cheers and the embraces of family and friends.
The couple, along with about 40 other soldiers from the 192nd Quartermaster Company, were welcomed home by hundreds of people after a year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Families and friends surrounded the bus that drove the soldiers in about 1:30 p.m. from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. As the soldiers stepped out one by one, tearful family and friends surrounded them in a tangle of hugs and kisses.
Joey Simon's mother, Kim Cooper, said she began to cry the moment she saw the bus pull in.
"I was never so proud," she said about her son and daughter-in-law. "It's a feeling you can't describe."
About 80 additional soldiers deployed with the 192nd Quartermaster Company in November 2006.
The company's year-long mission in Baghdad included receiving and issuing fuel and supplies to 90,000 soldiers at various supply stations.
The humanitarian missions included supplying office products, building and school supplies for Iraqi infrastructure and individuals whose homes had been damaged in the conflict.
Barb Simon drove from her home in New London to the Army Reserve base to welcome home her nephew and niece.
"I'm glad to have him home," she said as she dabbed away tears with tissue.
The soldiers were honored with a short ceremony at the Army Reserve center, 1119 Mason RoadWest.
Major Philip Sharp, commander of the 192nd QM CO, who deployed with the group in 2006, greeted the large crowd.
"Now I give my soldiers back to you," he said to the families and friends who eagerly waited to reunite with their loved ones.
"We're glad to be home ... we brought everyone back home safe."
"Happy, glad and excited" were the words Howard Simon used to describe his son's return home.
"(I'm) very proud. Very, very proud," he said.
With their return home, both Joey and Lori Simon have finally fulfilled their military service.
Lori Simon joined the Army Reserves in 1999 and her husband joined in 2000. The couple met one other in 2001, during their first tours of duty in Egypt.
During this final tour, the couple worked with one another in the headquarters building. Joey Simon worked with unit armor while his wife worked with communications.
"I think I had it a lot better than others did," said Lori Simon about having her husband with her on her tour.
The couple agree the first thing they would like to do now that they are back home is sleep.
"And take a shower. And change my clothes. But sleep, for the most part," Joey Simon said.
Lori Simon said she is excited to have her pick of foods to eat.
Her first choice? Mexican.
The Simons plan to relax and catch up with their families before returning to their civilian jobs and lives.
Lori Simon will return to work at Lyman Harbor, while Joey Simon plans to return to school to study either architecture or information technology.
The couple describe their years of service as sometimes difficult, but overall worth it.
"It made me a lot more mature," Joey Simon said. "I recommend everyone try it. You have more respect for the different nations -- different races. You see what they go through and understand people."
His wife agrees.
"I'm very proud of myself for getting through it," she said. "It was a big accomplishment. It felt good to know we are finally done with this."