April 10, 2012 at 2:22 AM EST - Updated June 26 at 10:05 PM
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) After spending nearly the last year away from his family serving overseas in Afghanistan, a Royal Palm soldier in the US Army was finally reunited with his loved ones.
Combat engineer Michael Madera walked through the security gate of Palm Beach International Airport after spending the last eight months in Afghanistan.
As soon as he got off his plane and began walking toward his waiting family, a crowd of strangers broke out into a roar of applause.
Madera, 22, is home for the first time since leaving for his first tour of Afghanistan.
The Royal Palm native said while it gets a little dangerous serving overseas at times, he said the army is what he chose to do for a living. Madera said when he comes home to a welcome like on Monday, it further solidifies why he is serving in the military.
"I mean I wasn't expecting it all to tell you the truth. I'm speechless sometimes you know. But just grateful to be back home," said Madera.
The U.S. Army soldier said he feels like he and his fellow soldiers have made some significant gains during their tour, but he said he has not heard too much about troop withdrawal.
Madera will spend the next 15 days at home in Royal Palm before heading back to Afghanistan.