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Saturday, March 24, 2012

His Homecoming Story

Can I just say that these past days have just been marvelous! (Do people use that word anymore?) We've spent the last week up in the Bavarian Alps at a resort, de-stressing and enjoying each others' company after 6 LONG months apart. It was much needed. It's a vacation we've talked about and looked forward to and helped keep us plodding along on those hard days. I'll write more about that later, but first I want to share the story of his homecoming while the emotions are still pretty fresh.

I'll start with Thursday, March 8th. He was scheduled to leave on a flight out of Afghanistan on Friday and would arrive home on Saturday (10th) at midday. I was beyond excited. I vividly remember working out at the gym that morning when out of the blue "Walking on Sunshine" came on my iPod. I was smiling ear to ear, and wanted to tell everyone I knew that he was coming home soon! Of course, I couldn't, for security reasons.

I picked Ariana up from preschool and we came home for lunch. I got a message from Rich saying that he didn't think they were going to get out the next day. They weren't booked for the flight. This was the start of the emotional roller coaster.

My mood suddenly shifted from happy to annoyed. We were so close to being done and I wasn't happy that someone was going to screw it up so late in the game. Not a happy wife. But, I patiently waited to see if hopefully they would get on the flight out. They still had the rest of Thursday and most of Friday to get things together and get our crew on the flight home.

Friday was a waiting game. Still, nobody had put them on the flight to leave that night, and it wasn't looking good. "If we don't know by 1600, then I don't think we'll be on the flight", my husband told me. Ok, I could keep my cool until then. I cleaned the house - something I do best under stress. And I talked to a friend - I didn't tell them exactly what was going on. I couldn't.

At 1610 I got online to see if he had anymore news.
He had sent a message 2 mins before saying "Looks like a no". Bummer.

I sent a quick hi to see if he was online. Suddenly, a message came through that said "Leaving now, trying to catch the flight" WHOA, what!? I almost burst into tears.

About 30 mins later he sent me a message saying that someone came in and told them they had 20 mins to pack and get to their flight if they wanted to be on it. The running began.

They ran to their tent, threw last minute stuff in their bags and made it to the plane on time. Then they had to wait 2 hours. The military is all "hurry up and wait". Unofficial slogan, ha!

We were finally getting this ball rolling!

They were scheduled to leave on time after all. Only problem was they another stop at another base to turn in extra gear, and they had a second flight they were trying to catch. They didn't know if they could do all their paperwork in time for the second flight. It was going to be close. The second flight was schedule to leave in the wee hours of the morning (around 2 or 3 am for me). I wouldn't know if he got the second flight until morning. He told me "If you don't hear anything from me that means we made the flight". Ok, more waiting. Sleep came hard that night, but it did come.

When I woke up the next morning the first thing I did was check my messages. I read "Not getting out until the 16th. Sorry babe". It was the 10th. He was suppose to arrive that day. Not a good start to my morning.

 Then, I got one that said "New update, may be getting on a flight out of here, stopping for 3 hours and then straight there" They would arrive the next day (11th) Ok, I can handle that. To keep myself busy Ariana and I went shopping. Of course this whole time, the wives were calling each other, keeping each other informed and upbeat.

Later that day, I got "Another update, we are now scheduled to leave tonight and fly straight there" YES!!!!!!!!!! I crossed my toes that everything would work out. My mom and sister kept me sane that night. Sleep came even harder, I was so wired. The last I heard from him was "boarding the plane in 15 mins!" Breathe. Breathe. Breathe!

Sunday morning I woke up chipper. He was coming home! After a few checks, everything was still on schedule! I don't know how I made it through that morning. Their plane wasn't scheduled to land until 1310. One of the wives and I decided we wanted to get their early and planned to arrive at the terminal on base at 1220. I told Ariana that morning that we were going to pick up Daddy. Man, was she excited. We hung our welcome home banner and balloons and put our sign in the car and headed out. This was it.

Once we were on base the wait was horrible. Me and another wife and her kids were the first ones there. The rest trickled in after us. By 1320 there was lots of people there waiting to welcome them home. But, the deployed group hadn't made their appearance yet.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited some more...

I was a ball of nerves and couldn't sit still. Our eyes were glued on the doors that we thought they would come through. Every person in uniform made my heart jump. We were stuck in a room with a glass wall where we had to wait. A friend and her husband took some cameras and offered to take pictures for us. Even with all those people there trying to distract us and keep our mind off the ticking clock, the waiting seemed to go on forever.

1310 scheduled arrival time, no airmen
1330 no airmen
1400 no airmen
1415 no airmen, we were getting anxious now, it was over an hour since they were suppose to arrive
1430 no airmen

We could see them through the glass wall but couldn't get to them. The couple of guys with kids came up and were smiling and crying and waving and blowing kisses through the glass. We proudly held up our signs and held back our tears as best we could.  Having that glass separating us was horrible. We couldn't wait to hug them, kiss them, hold them, tell them we loved them.

Finally, they got their bags and were let outside. Ariana ran to him first and jumped in his arms! When I finally got to hug and kiss him I broke down in tears.  We just held each other for a while. It was such a happy moment to be back together.

Ariana barely would let go of his neck. She was all smiles and hugs and he had to carry her out to the car. She was kissing all over his face. 

When all the greetings had been done and all the "welcome back" hugs and handshakes were over, we headed home as a family reunited again.

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  1. AWWW this was such a precious story to read! Glad that you are reunited once again

    Also, your kitchen is amazing. I love the mismatched (yet matching) doors on the cabinets! So pretty and modern

  2. Oh my gosh, SOOO awesome! That last picture of the three of you is so perfect. Glad that you are reunited now, and thank you all for your service to our country!

  3. The last picture is my favorite picture. It is great to see you all together again.

  4. This was such a wondeful story to read. Thank you for sharing, and for your service to our country. I'm so glad he's home safe!

  5. Awww I'm crying myself reading this post... you are so lucky to have the photo's. Such a precious, personal moment captured perfectly.
    jennie. x