No More Waiting

A year of waiting and agony is ending for 50 military families.

"This will be the first good night's sleep I've had in a long time," said Dolores Puccio, of Holtsville. And with good reason.

Puccio's son and nephew are two of some 50 Army National guardsmen returning home after a year in combat in Afghanistan.

"It's been excruciating" said Tiffany Gentile as she held her 1-year-old, Teddy. Her husband, Sgt. Theodore Gentile had shipped out when his son was only a few months old.

"I could hear my husband choke up during phone calls when I told him little Teddy had spoken his first words or taken his first steps," Gentile said. "It was bittersweet."

The guardsmen are members of New York's famed "Fighting 69th" unit -- citizen soldiers who left their lives as students and office workers to serve. Their plane touched down at LaGuardia airport Wednesday morning and was greeted by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The soldiers are reuniting with their families at the Bay Shore Armory.

"I am so proud," one father said, choking back tears. "We are the home of the free because of brave men like these."

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