RUSSELLVILLE (WATE) - Preparations are underway to welcome home 100 East Tennessee soldiers from the National Guard's 190th Engineer Company who spent the last year in Afghanistan. They are scheduled to return Wednesday night.
"I just cannot wait for him to get off that bus," said Mary Margaret Ledford, whose son is coming home.
She says being away from her son Mark for almost a year has been tough.
"The hardest part is I usually talk to him every day and it's hard not being able to pick up the phone and call him," Ledford explained.
To give the soldiers a proper welcome, family and friends are decking the walls at the armory in Russellville. Even elementary school students contributed with welcome home posters.
"Patriotism is part of our curriculum in third grade. This is a great way for students to show their patriotism and thanks for their freedom," said Rebecca Statzer, a teacher at West Elementary.
Destiny Fanney, a third grader whose father is coming home, has been helping with the decorating process. She says she misses spending time with her dad.
"Me and him getting up so early so we can eat everything when we want when my family's asleep and make us some brownies and eat them all," she said.
The soldiers will also be welcomed with the star treatment. A red carpet will be laid out when they get off the bus.
Many say this is their way of showing just how proud they are of their soldiers.
"We just want them to know how much they were missed, how much they're loved and how glad we are that they're back home," said Ledford.
The soldiers are scheduled to return to Russellville at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening to the Carroll Reece Memorial Armory.
Family and friends are hoping folks will line the streets for their arrival.