The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and Ladies Auxiliary 9143 had a surprise for a returning soldier Wednesday night.
U.S. Army Spc. Timothy Hughes was welcomed home during the post's regular meeting.
"It's pretty nice seeing everyone and meeting everyone," he said. "This was all a surprise to me."
Hughes, who returned July 24 from his second tour of duty in Iraq, said the welcome was "overwhelming."
He said his mother told him about the meeting "at the last second."
Hughes' wife, Andrea, and 22-month-old son, Kaileb, as well as his mother, grandmothers and other family members joined him Wednesday night.
Hughes said Kaileb was 7 months old when he left.
Andrea Hughes said she was excited and anxious to have her husband back. While he was gone, she said, she just tried to keep herself busy.
"I try not to think about what he's doing," she said.
A graduate of North Forsyth High School, Hughes also attended Forsyth Central High. He is stationed near Savannah, but lives in Florida. He said he plans to move back to Cumming in a few years.
Post Commander Donald Hughes, who is no relation, presented Hughes with an Army T-shirt and American flag. The soldier also received a VFW medallion.
In a speech before the presentation, Donald Hughes commended the soldier for his service.
"Our admiration for your courage and commitment in the face of these difficult experiences is immense," he said.
"Your willingness to serve, particularly in these perilous times, is a tribute to you and to the millions who have gone before you. When others have turned a deaf ear to the cry of the helpless, you have come to their aid."
Timothy Hughes thanked his wife for all she had done while he was gone and his mother and stepfather for their support in his absence. He also thanked "all the fellas who have been before me."
"If it were not for y'all, I wouldn't be here today," he said. "Thank y'all and the ladies who stood beside you."
The post's regular meetings are the third Wednesday of every month at 1045 Dahlonega Highway in Cumming.