They are just like the rest of us - only better.
Finally, they come home today.
They fought a war - for many of them, their second war, or their third - and not one of them died so far away from their spouses and children.
They came back to Fort Dix., N.J. over the weekend for a few days of processing. They arrive today at a Columbia airport around 2:30 p.m. The Herald will stream live video from the return.
The rest of us make a big deal out of it when we help put away the groceries at home. Politicians here tout the roads they helped pave without ever lifting a shovel. These guys cleared paved and unpaved roads where each stretch could have been the one to kill them and their buddies.
There were a few concussions and broken bones but no funerals.
Here is a snapshot of what the 1222nd soldiers did in Afghanistan.
Conducted 325 total missions.
Cleared about 13,000 miles of roads.
Trained the Afghan military for future bomb clearance when American troops leave Afghanistan.
Another company from nearby Wellford in Spartanburg County that has some area soldiers in it completed 232 missions, clearing about 10,000 miles of roads.
The families of soldiers did not know mission details, but all knew that the work was, plainly, the most dangerous job in the world. What that also means is that in all those houses back here for the past 10 months, every day and every night, a spouse and kids went to bed in mortal terror.
In Chester, the last year for Bonnie Hoagland has been brutal. She knows the brutality of deployment - she has lived it for seven years. Bonnie is the wife of a soldier in the unit, Chris Hoagland, who will come home today after serving in Iraq years ago.
Bonnie is the mother of Bradley Moss, who comes home today from deployment to Afghanistan. Her son Justin, in the same Fort Mill unit, came home a few weeks ago from Afghanistan - his second deployment there. Another son, Chad, was wounded in Afghanistan during the unit's last deployment in 2008.
A fourth son, Clayton, has been deployed twice with the active duty Army, and waits to go again in months.
This has been Bonnie Hoagland's life since 2003. Departure to war, loneliness, crying, praying, and finally, the return.
"It seemed like this day would never get here," Hoagland said Thursday. "I have waited so long. It seems like this has been going on for years, praying and hoping for them to stay safe and waiting for them to get home."
Today, for Bonnie Hoagland and her husband and son, and a hundred or so other soldiers and families whose nights for so long were filled with dread, the wait is over for joy. Each of them, soldier and family, earned it.