FARR WEST -- Lily Lofland sprang to her feet when she saw the black Chevy Suburban come up the street.
"Mom! Dad!" the 5-year-old shouted, running toward the car carrying her parents. For a moment, an American flag waving in the wind blocked her way, but nothing could stand between her and her father's arms as she raced into them.
"How are you guys?" Mike Lofland asked as he whisked his youngest daughter into the air.
He was returning to the family's Farr West home after a yearlong deployment to Iraq as command sergeant major for the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion of the Utah National Guard.
While he was away, he missed watching his six children grow, as well as events like his eldest son Nick's high school graduation.
Lily and son Max, 13, in particular, had grown a lot taller since the last time he saw them, Mike Lofland said.
He said his base in Iraq had changed a lot since his previous deployment when U.S. operations in Balad first began. At that time, the troops lived in tents blown by hot winds, and for a while, there was no water with which to bathe.
This time, they were able to stay in buildings and watch children return to school amid the drawdown.
Nick, 18, said he spent March putting together almost 50 kits full of school supplies to send to Iraq as part of Operation Give.
He is happy to see his father at home again, as are all the children. For eldest daughter, Allie, 21, he's her hero. Miguel, 12, has one word to describe him: "Awesome."
They saw their dad in Salt Lake City when his plane landed Wednesday, but his wife could not bring him home for another day because he still had a few military procedures to go through.
So in the meantime, the kids, friends and neighbors set up more than 100 American flags along the route he would take driving home. The flags lined the six blocks from 2700 North and 2000 West, an intersection just off Interstate 15, to his driveway.
When Mike Lofland finally arrived at home, he, his wife and all six kids made sure to get in a group hug before taking care of anything else.
"Now we're home," his wife, Dani, said as they embraced him.
They always saved him a seat in church and set a plate for him at the table. "I would tell the kids, 'You can't sit there. That's Dad's spot,' " Dani said.
Now that he's back, Mike Lofland will get to work on finishing their new house and reintroducing himself into his family's life. He has a backpacking trip planned with his sons.
But Thursday evening, it was time to barbecue some burgers and sit in his spot at the dinner table. It had been saved and set for him.