CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — When Army Major Jason Perez landed at Richmond International Airport, his family welcomed him with open arms. But it wasn’t until the father of four returned home to Midlothian that he realized how many people missed him.

Dozens of neighbors, and American flags lined the RounTrey development community streets Friday afternoon for the return of Perez; gone since January–his second deployment to Afghanistan.

“Seeing him and just seeing our kids run up to him is something I will never forget,” Mary Perez said after her husband’s arrival.

Perez’s previous military assignments have also taken him to Africa and Germany.

However, it was the community support shared over the past several months–getting out of the pandemic–that neighbors said made the community’s bond stronger.

“It takes a village, and I cannot believe this,” Jason Perez said of the communal help, and of his wife, who he called “the real hero.”

Chesterfield police escorted the Perez family, as more American troops are slated to make similar trips before all U.S. troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by September 11.

“All of this makes me think that the war is ending, and everyone is getting to come home. But it also makes me think about those who didn’t get to, and just how blessed we are,” Mary Perez said.