Emotions run high as troops return home to RAF Honington, near Thetford

There were cheers, tears of joy and hugs all around as family and friends welcomed home husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons and brothers from the frontline last night.

Some 162 personnel from 15 Squadron RAF Regiment flew into RAF Mildenhall following a four month tour of duty at Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan.

And it was a party atmosphere when they then transferred to RAF Honington where they were welcomed by their loved ones.

Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Daniel Gentry, 21, was greeted by Victoria, 26, his wife of six months and their eight-month-old daughter, Lily Mae, who was able to walk up to her father for the first time.

His wife said: 'It was hard to see him go because she was quite poorly, so I think I had more worry being on my own and him missing things. She's just learnt how to say Dada now.'

SAC Gentry, from Fornham St Genevieve, near Bury St Edmunds, said he had found it difficult leaving his family behind and added: 'When I left she wasn't doing anything, and now she can sit up and walk. It's weird and quite emotional.'

Also welcoming home family was Nikita Lane, 21, from Thetford, whose fianc�, brother and father had all arrived back from Afghanistan.

Most Read

She said: 'It's difficult but it's something I've been brought up with and it's something I've learnt to understand. You just pull together and try and cope.' Her fianc�, Cpl James Power, 26, from Dereham, who has been deployed five times in his five-year career in the RAF added: 'We've been making a lot of difference out there. It used to be a lot more high-tempo than it is now and it's clear to see our work has paid off. There is a lot more interaction with the locals which they love.'

The troops had been tasked with protecting the airbase against enemy infiltration.

They are now due to remain at home for 18 months before they are posted to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Sqn Ldr Ed Cripps said the men had worked hard during a 'busy' deployment and added: 'I think the other thing is the support we've had from family and friends and the local community which has been tremendous. It gave the boys a real boost.'