ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Family and friends cheer and wave as National Guard troops from Hometown and other Pennsylvania units arrive from the airport at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Scranton.
Hundreds of loved ones lined the parking lot yesterday evening at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Scranton as United States Army Reserve and PA National Guard soldiers from Hometown's Company C, 1st Battalion, CAB, 109th Infantry Regiment, PAARNG, and other Pennsylvania units arrived home after serving time in Kuwait.
This return marked the last large arrival of troops from Hometown's Company C.
The majority of Hometown's unit spent over six months in Kuwait, and an additional two to three months training in the states.
For some soldiers, this was not their first time serving overseas as part of America's fight against terrorism.
"This was our third tour overseas," said SSG Matt Frey of New Ringgold, and SSG Tim Kromer of Palmerton, who both served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, eight months in Afghanistan in 2008 and, now, over six months in Kuwait.
After getting off the bus, both Frey and Kromer poured red wine with loved ones in celebration.
"I kept myself busy over there," said Frey, a 1996 Tamaqua graduate. Frey, 37, who managed a 24/7 food services facility for fellow soldiers, said that under his command, he served over 400,000 meals during his time in Kuwait. In addition, he supervised other country nationals, called OCN's, at the facility.
"It was great to work with a diverse range of ethnicities. I really enjoyed mentoring fellow soldiers," added SSG Frey. 'What they learn overseas, will help them forever."
"This is his third deployment," said Frey's mother Julia Schock. "I hope it is his last."
When asked about his achievements in Kuwait, SSG Kromer, 35, who serves as a full-time police officer with the Palmerton Police Department, said he was in charge of millions of dollars in government supplies.
SSG Kromer said, during his unit's retrograde, he turned in $14 million worth of government gear. He added that four fellow soldiers and himself also succeeded in working together to close Camp Virginia. "The massive amount of equipment blew my mind," said SSG Kromer. "It takes a lot to logistics to organize normal day to day operations abroad."
"I am so proud of both of my sons," said Leroy Kromer I, who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. "I was so grateful to see the high amount of support for all the solders."
Also part of this arrival was Specialist Craig Welsh, 25, of Summit Hill.
SSG Kromer's brother, SSG LeRoy Kromer II, 40, of Palmerton and Sgt 1st Class Paul Shutter of Lansford, who represent the last of Company C's troops to return home, are expected to arrive home within a week or so.
When asked what his plans were, Frey said, "I am looking forward to enjoying ice cream at Heisler's and going fishing with friends."