HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-A hero's welcome was waiting for a north Alabama solider who earned a well-deserved trip home Monday.
U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Reed walked through the gates of Huntsville International Airport Monday afternoon, where he was greeted by a throng of family members and friends who surprised him.
The Madison County native and Buckhorn High graduate wasn't able to talk about the last year he spent in Afghanistan since most of his mission was classified. But grateful family members said they were just glad to see their son and brother home safe, a sentiment Sgt. Reed shared.
"Family, friends, it's the best thing to come home to," said the 23 year-old serviceman, who also had a prior tour of duty in Iraq. "The second time [home] means a lot more because I know what to expect this time, it feels really good."
Sgt. Reed is also a diehard Crimson Tide fan, and says the anticipation of rooting for Alabama in a national title race kept his spirits up overseas.
"Came home just in time," joked Reed. "That's probably another big thing I missed, football. Only two things in Alabama: Football, and football."
Reed's family was joined by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, who lined the airport concourse with American flags for the homecoming. His father said faith and prayer helped Reed's family to stay strong.
"My heart dropped, it's just great seeing him," said Richard Reed. "Right now I'm proud. I'm ten feet tall and bulletproof now, I'm that proud."