Some Bay County families separated by deployment for nearly a year are reunited just in time for the holidays.
The soldiers from Army Reserve Transportation Detachment #576 said this season they have extra reason to celebrate.
"It's the time of the year you spend with your family. You're over there with your brother and sister in arms and it's just not the same," said Sgt. Kenneth Swedburg.
Swedburg deployed when his daughter, Abbie, was just 6 months old.
"Missed my daughter's first Thanksgiving, First Christmas, Easter, her first birthday," he said.
This year, he's here and ready to celebrate the season with his family; returning home from Afghanistan after nearly a year.
"Seeing them when they wake up in the morning, opening presents and smiles everywhere. It's going to be nice," he said.
Wife Kelsey agreed. She shed tears admitting Christmas morning without her husband was incredibly difficult.
"It was really hard, you know, just having to video tape it and for him not to see it was really hard," she said.
It's a sacrifice military families go through year after year and one that never gets easier.
Meanwhile, the Panama City community has stepped up. Countless veteran organizations have stepped in to ensure the burden of separation is lifted in their loved one's absence.
"Your heart goes out because you know that sacrifice was for you," said volunteer and veteran, Darrell Hertz.
As one of the organizers of Sunday's Christmas celebration and ceremony, He credited the strength of these military families as a foundation towards making America great.
"It's very special to see them together and you kind of just pray that they will be strong and stay strong and be that fiber of the country that we have to have."
The 576th celebrated alongside 5 other detachments headquarter in Panama City, all made possible through the efforts of the Veterans Task Force, American Legion Post #375, Amvets #2298, and the Soldiers Angels who are happy to serve those who bravely serve us.