Updated: July 6, 2014 at 7:22 am
The crowd didn't hesitate.
As soon as members of the 242nd Ordnance Battalion and their loved ones heard the command "Dismissed," the Fort Carson Special Events Center erupted in cheers Saturday afternoon. Friends and family poured out of the stands in an instant and mobbed the soldiers with hugs and kisses.
The celebration was for the return of 21 soldiers who were the last of Fort Carson's 71st Ordnance Group to leave Afghanistan.
"I believe it is God's answered prayer," said Lisa Lin moments before her husband Maj. Peter Lin joined her and their 2-year-old son Tyler at the homecoming. "I'm so thankful that nothing happened to him and his troops. I'm thankful that he'll be home with family."
Lin and many of the people who patiently waited for their loved ones to arrive wiped tears from their eyes as the members of the battalion marched into the Events Center. The homecoming was scheduled for 4 p.m., but he soldiers' arrival was delayed by more than a half hour.
The 242nd Ordnance Battalion finished a year-long tour in which they were assigned to explosive disposal. The soldiers, airmen from the Air Force and sailors from the Navy cleared more than 115,000 pounds of explosives hazards since July 2013, protecting coalition forces and the Afghan people, Fort Carson officials said.
"They save lives, and I think that's important for people to understand," Lisa Lin said of her husband's team.
The soldiers beamed with bright smiles as they talked with loved ones and the media during the celebration.
Sgt. Kent Uhler said the past year marked his third deployment and second in Afghanistan. He said the difference between there and being home was evident as soon as he stepped off the airplane on Saturday.
"It smells better and you don't have to worry about getting shot at," he said.
When Uhler was asked what he was going to do first now that he was home, he too didn't hesitate.
"I'm gonna go get a steak and a beer with my parents," he said.