Since 2003, California has sent 15,000 troops to Iraq. The ones who returned on Friday was the last big group of them. The deployment was hard on the troops and their families.
"I wasn't grey a year ago," said Bud Romero. "I didn't have a grey hair on me. That's how it's been."
That's how the past year has been for Romero while his daughter was serving in Iraq. On Friday, Romero drove a long way from Foresthill, near Auburn, to greet 21-year-old Pfc. Chloe Romero.
A scene of hugs and greetings repeated with fellow doctors, nurses and lab technicians who left for Iraq in February and thought they would be staying in Basra much longer.
Romero's dad told us he expected his 21-year-old daughter would change during the trip, and he was right: She changed for the better.
"I've changed so much," Romero said. "Being in a different country, with a different way of life -- the way we were living there makes you so grateful for what we have here."
Today's homecoming wrapped up the week in a nice way, especially since there have been other returns that were tragic instead.
The California National Guard lost 26 soldiers since 2003. Every one of those families hopes we have seen the end of it.