By Bree Sison, WBZ-TV

NEWBURYPORT (CBS)- The Soldiers of the 182nd Engineer Company were welcomed home to Massachusetts by a massive crowd on Thursday. A ceremony at the Newburyport Armory reunited 84 soldiers with their families after spending nearly a year in Afghanistan.

“I was overwhelmed, excited… just great, great news,” said Jessica Dos Anjos, whose husband is a medic in the company.

On Monday, Dos Anjos learned husband Decleecio would arrive in time for Thanksgiving dinner. He kept the timing of his arrival a secret until the military finalized the plans.

“They said it was around Thanksgiving,” the soldier told WBZ-TV. “It could have been before or after, so I didn’t want to get their hopes up too much.”

Excitement soared at the armory as children were reunited with their parents. For 7-month-old Olivia Foster, it was only the second time she had met her father, James.

“She’s definitely different now!” mom Kelsey said of her baby, who recently learned to crawl. “She’s all over the house now.”

Kelsey Foster picked out Olivia’s pink camouflage outfit months in advance of the homecoming. She says it’s dad’s turn to help with babysitting.

The soldiers spent 10 months in Kandahar Province clearing 35,000 kilometers of suspected explosive hazards. The company encountered 96 improvised explosive devices. Combat action badges were awarded to 55 of the 84 soldiers. Two others received combat medic badges.


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