A crowd of anxious friends and family stood holding signs, balloons, flags and flowers as they waited for their loved ones to arrive at San Antonio International Airport Monday afternoon.

The group of Air Force medics walked down the steps to baggage claim led by two troops holding a large American flag.

“It’s just great to be back in the United States. There's nothing like it,” said Tech Sgt. April Payne. “We were all excited. As soon as the plane landed we were clapping and everyone was saying how their heart was racing.”

“It’s like the puzzle is all back together,” said Payne’s grandmother, Amelia Payne.

“You send somebody off and you hope and pray that they’re safe and then to see her appear in person… its just surreal - in the most fabulous way - but just absolutely surreal,” said Brenna MacPhearson, who welcomed home Capt. Katherine Lindstrom.

“Its humbling. I feel really blessed to be back,” Lindstrom said.

Some of the medics planned to head straight home to spend time with family, while others wanted to savor their return.

“I want a cheeseburger,” joked A1C Tiara Gonzales.

“Maybe Mexican food or go out. Whatever she'd like is OK with me,” said Mary Sarabia, Payne’s mother.

No matter what their plans, each medic is home for the holidays.

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