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Local soldiers arrive home to hero's welcome

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 11 2014 04:30:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 05:42:17 PM CDT

Tuesday was a long time coming for dozens of local troops and their families as the soldiers arrived home after a nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

CUMRU TWP., Pa. -

Tuesday was a long time coming for dozens of local troops and their families.

Army reservists with the 333rd Engineer Company arrived in Harrisburg on Tuesday afternoon and boarded buses for Berks County, where anxious family members were waiting to give them a hero's homecoming.

"Nervous, excited, ready to cry. My son is coming back from Afghanistan," said Ann Rawlins.

Rawlins's son, Jeremy Brendel, was one of the soldiers in the 333rd Engineering Company arriving home from almost a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

"I am so proud of him. I love him like crazy. He is my life," said Rawlins.

But in addition to embracing his mom and dad, Jeremy will get to see his wife and his 6-month-old son, Travis.

"Very anxious because this is the first time he is meeting his son. We have not seen each other in almost a year, and it has been a rough road," said Vanessa Brendel, the soldier's wife.

Vanessa gave birth to Travis in September and has been raising him alone with her husband thousands of miles away in Afghanistan. 

"Very rough. I have had my good days and bad days, but I try to stay positive because I know it reflects on Travis and Jeremy. I know if he is staying strong, so can I," said Brendel.

But now she is overjoyed that her bundle of joy will finally meet his dad, the person he has been waiting his whole life to meet.

"I just really appreciate the husband that I have. I am really glad we got through this and today makes it all worth it," said Brendel.

Tune into 69 News at 10:30 for more on the hero's homecoming.