Some 180 soldiers from the Illinois Army National Guard deployed with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team returned home on Monday after a year in Afghanistan.
"It's unbelievable. The greeting, we had an escort all the way here, it was fantastic. I'm speachless," one returning soldier said.
Part of the largest overseas deployment of the Illinois National Guard since World War II, the civilian soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry in Chicago were dismissed from duty during a welcoming ceremony at Soldier Field.
Hundreds of family members crowded into the stadium to welcome their return.
Gov. Pat Quinn was on hand, again visiting with some troops he saw two weeks ago during his visit to the Middle Eastern country. He told the returning soldiers that Americans have a debt of gratitude for their service.
Their deployment included approximately 30 units from around the state. The remaining units will return later this summer.
Since nearly 3,000 soldiers were mobilized last summer, the brigade has suffered 18 casualties. More than 30 soldiers have been wounded in action.