Updated: 12/22/2013 10:36 PM
Created: 12/22/2013 8:15 PM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
For dozens of Minnesota families, the best gift they'll receive this Christmas didn't have to be unwrapped. On Sunday 140 Minnesota National Guard soldiers returned home from Afghanistan, just in time to spend the holiday with their families.
Those soldiers spent more than eight months in Afghanistan, mostly doing maintenance, construction, road repairs, and other vital work on supply routes. But on Sunday, they returned home to see their relatives -- and meet brand new ones.
The first thing the soldiers saw was the flag they fought so hard for.
With the stars and stripes lining the way, police officers and firefighters escorted them for the last few miles of their journey home. It's safe to say the soldiers had never been so happy to see the snow-covered Minnesota ground.
But they couldn't wait to get inside, where hundreds of friends and family members eagerly -- and emotionally -- awaited their return.
"I've been crying for like a week since I knew somewhat that they were on their way home," said Jessie Moulzolf, who was waiting for her older brother to return home.
Among the crowd, Jessica Fimon, who gave birth to her son while her husband was 7,000 miles away. She wasn't about to wait one second longer to make the introduction to dad.
"Locked eyes on him and I went for it. It was amazing. It's great to have him home," Fimon said.
It was the moment Pfc. Charlie Fimon finally met the son named after him.
"It feels amazing. I can't even describe it," Fimon said.
Countless moments just like that one played out across the gymnasium. After 262 days, pent-up emotions were released with one long-awaited embrace, as family after family became whole again, just in time for the holiday.
"It's like you're complete now, like your whole family is together," Moulzolf said.
"It's great, it's amazing -- speechless," Jessica Fimon said.
Pfc. Fimon then left that gymnasium with his wife and newborn son to go see their other children, who had no idea he was returning home on Sunday.