KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ Hundreds of Kuwaiti soldiers, captured by Iraqi troops during the occupation, returned home today in an emotional scene at a converted wedding hall.

''It's a dream come true,'' said Redha Meqwar, a 30-year-old sergeant in the Kuwaiti army who was taken on Aug. 2, the day Iraq invaded Kuwait. ''There's a lot of feelings in my heart that I can't express.''

The first 145 soldiers landed at Kuwait International Airport at mid- morning from Iraq via Saudi Arabia. A second flight arrived about an hour later.

In all, eight flights, carrying 1,150 Kuwaiti soldiers were expected today, Red Crescent officials said. All had been freed from the Iraqi town of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown north of Baghdad.

From the airport, the soldiers were bused to a wedding hall in the Surra section of Kuwait City.

Hundreds of expectant relatives massed in front of the hall, hoping for a chance to be reunited with loved ones. Many were disappointed.

The Kuwaiti government did not release names of the prisoners beforehand, so many relatives of missing Kuwaitis came to the center with hope as their only companion.

''It's worse than torture,'' said Ghada al-Adwani, a 27-year-old woman who was waiting for her soldier husband. ''I haven't seen or heard from him in seven months. Why can't they tell us who is coming so we know what to do?''

The Red Crescent, the main Muslim relief organization, has estimated 11,000 Kuwaiti civilians and soldiers remain in Iraqi hands. Of them, about 3,500 are civilians, according to Bader al-Munafi, a Red Crescent official.

The release was the second official freeing of Kuwaiti prisoners and the first of Kuwaiti soldiers. Iraq earlier freed about 1,200 detained Kuwaiti civilians. Hundreds more Kuwaitis have returned home after Iraqi rebels occupied several towns in southern Iraq and opened jails.

No government officials were present at the hall today. A small delegation, led by Brig. Gen. Jasim al-Shihab, one of three Kuwaiti commanders who fled the emirate with the invasion, met the first Kuwaitis at the airport.

As the buses pulled in, women ululated, men jumped from the crowd. Little boys cried.

''Thanks to God, he is alive,'' said Badria Nasser Mubarak, a 36-year-old woman reunited with her brother, Jaber.

Shaking with tears, she gestured to the sky. ''Thanks to God,'' she said.

Her brother fainted as he hugged his mother and father. A sprinkling of water revived the man. Jaber, 30, said Iraqi troops took him and two brothers in August.

''But we are all three safe and free now,'' he said.

Like most of the soldiers returning today, Jaber said he and his comrades had not been beaten by Iraqi troops.

''Living conditions were horrible. The food, medicine, sanitation was all bad, but the Iraqis generally didn't hurt us,'' he said.

No officers appeared to be among them the soldiers released today. Officials said Kuwait's officers were being kept in the Iraqi town of Ba'qubah, half-way between Baghdad and Tikrit.

The soldiers were released in Saudi Arabia Thursday in compliance with terms set by the Allies during cease-fire talks.

Iraq had bused them to a remote Saudi border town and Saudi authorities then took them to Arar, 550 miles northwest of Riyadh where they boarded flights home today.