Christmas comes early for members of 122nd Battalion - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Christmas comes early for members of 122nd Battalion

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(Source: Dena Jordan) (Source: Dena Jordan)

It was an emotional night Monday in West Columbia as Christmas came early for more than 100 military families as members of the South Carolina National Guard's 122nd Engineer Battalion returned home from Afghanistan.

They had been waiting for 289 days, but the last five minutes were some of the hardest.

"I probably prayed the whole way over here," said the mother of one of the soldiers.

"I was losing some patience, I know that much," said Craig Abney, a mechanic with the 122nd.

"We were about to push the door down," added Sgt. First Class Kenneth Aycock.

When the doors finally opened, it was worth the wait.

"Best feeling I've had all year," explained Abney.

"Being in Afghanistan isn't hard. Being away from your family and friends is the hardest part," said Aycock.

For the family members, it's a great Christmas present.

"It's like Heaven. I've got another one hopefully on the way home in July," explained Abney's mother.

For Craig Abney, it's a chance to see his 1-year-old son.

"I was holding him in my hand last time I saw him. Now he's walking," described Abney.

For Aycock, he's home just in time for his son's birthday.

"If he tried to go over again, we're going to break his legs, make sure he doesn't go over," said Aycock's son.

While in Afghanistan, the members of the 122nd supported route clearance missions and assisted in training Afghan National Army engineers.

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