A Soldiers Coming Home

A Soldiers Coming Home

Deployment, Army, Soldier
The three of us at the deployment ceremony.

Having been through several deployments with my husband, it’s a little strange to be on the other side.  This time around it’s my daughter who is waiting for her husband to return.  I find it very exciting just watching how they are interacting with each other. How Breezy is preparing to see her husband again for the first time in nine months.

As luck would have it, my parents are coming in for a visit tomorrow. They live in Florida so we don’t get to see them a whole lot.  It’s pretty amazing because while the timeline for my son-in-law changes minute by minute, or so it feels, he will be in late in the day.  As it turns out my parents will actually get here first, then we will all be able to go to the Welcome Home Ceremony together.

While I’ve been telling Breezy for months that I would take pictures of them as they meet again, for a while I didn’t think I would be able to attend. As a said the timeline changes frequently and up until yesterday, it seemed they were going to arrive at the same time. At that point Ron and I made the decision to split. One would get the parents and one take the pictures.

Decisions, Decisions

Ron, Deployed, US Army, Hawaii
This is literally how it feels. The world is just rushing by.

I really didn’t want to let the picture idea go because I often reminiscence about the first time Ron came home from Iraq. The anticipation is just overwhelming. Even a memory can’t keep hold of how you feel in that moment. I certainly didn’t want her to not have photos.  Frozen moments in time. Mama bear I guess. If I’m in a place to help out, then I’m going to do so.

I recall the last deployment Ron was on. We were living in Hawaii. What a trip home from Iraq that was.  If memory serves correctly, they stopped three times before making it to Honolulu airport. Because cell phones exist and everyone has one, he kept texting and telling me his status. The hard part was when he landed in Honolulu.  He was back on the island, but still felt a million miles away.  The Army keeps everyone together until after the Welcome Home Ceremony.  We lived close to post, so when he texted me I knew he was in fact getting close.

Bus, Honolulu, Airport, Redeployment
Here comes the buses from the Honolulu airport. Our soldiers are finally home.

While getting ready Breezy and I were sitting in the front room of our house in Mililani. We were watching TV as Breezy curled my hair, I dropped my phone into my gigantic coffee cup. Oh, did I mention it was midnight?  I believe the ceremony was scheduled for 0100. Well, needless to say I didn’t want to, but had no choice to text him from my daughters phone and say I no longer had one. Please update her.

I remember us sitting in the aircraft hangar waiting for the buses to arrive.  Tension getting higher. Anticipation almost too much to bare.  By now we’re a mere 30 minutes away from seeing each other. It would seem by now it’s becoming more real. However, when you can hear people outside talking, but can’t see them, it doesn’t quite sink in. You get this sick feeling that your loved one missed the flight. As if the Army just forgot someone. Sure, you realize that it’s crazy pretty quickly, but it doesn’t help.

As the minutes drag on to what can only be described as hours, time stands still.  Sure we know they have official business to do. We know they have to handle all the deployment gear and hand in any weapons they may have. We don’t care. None of that is important to us. In that moment all we want is our soldier back. But as you wait, as time trickles by, the sheer site of seeing little kids running around just geared up ready to see their parents is a beautiful site. I’ve even witness’s service members seeing their new babies for the first time.  Nothing can take that moment away.

Outside the hangar the soldiers get into formation. The time has come. In one brief moment the hanger doors start to open. The crowd falls silent. Everyone is scanning the formation just hoping to catch a glimpse of their soldier walking in. Finding your soldier is harder than you think. After all they are all dressed the same. Once you catch a glimpse of them, and then them of you, its mind bending.  Needless to say, the ceremony hasn’t even started.  Those are likely the LONGEST 20 minutes of your life.

While I understand the ceremony, and I’m sure it’s nice for them, we spouses don’t care. We just want to hug em’ and hand over the littles one. The little ones who’ve been begging for their return. I recall Breezy asking me what the commander was saying. My reply, I don’t know. Who can focus? In that moment there isn’t anything anyone is going to say that is going to make an ounce of difference to you. As soon as the commander says released the soldiers and the crowd are like rats on a sinking ship.  Everyone is frantically looking for their loved one.  In that moment, all the heart ache, all the tears, all of the tuff times fade into the distance. The sacrifice was worth it all.

Like I said. Last time Breezy was waiting for her step-dad. Tomorrow she will be waiting for her husband.  Pictures, if possible are a must. My parents are excited to be able to attend Shayne’s Welcome Home Ceremony. My dad was in Vietnam and the soldiers have a huge space in their hearts. Many years ago they attended my brother-in-law’s Welcome Home. Then my niece was about four. Every time I see that photo of my dad holding his granddaughter, holding a welcome home daddy sign it just speaks volumes. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow, my son-in-law will be home.  My daughter will have her husband back, and our family will be whole again. 

I would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the soldiers never make it back home. Their families robbed the opportunity to attend this fabulous occasion. May we never forget their sacrifices for our freedom.

God Bless our troops!

UPDATE: Just as I was finishing this post, Breezy came over. Only to tell us Shayne’s plane out of Kuwait was delayed.  Guess we’re back on standby.

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