After 12 months of service in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and Qatar, Steve is home from Operation Enduring Freedom! Praise God! It's so good to be a reunited family!
He arrived home on Feb.9 at about 12:30 a.m. (yes, just after midnight the 8th!) and you should have seen the celebration! It was wonderful!
After a few delays, families were told to arrive at the hangar at 10 p.m. We got there with all of our balloons, signs and friends (Chaplain Wright and family who we met at Chaplaincy School) in tow and the girls ran off to play in the jumpy that was set up. They had great areas for the kids to play and volunteers from the USO were set up around the hangar giving away snacks and water and books and videos and other fun things. They even had a giant blow-up TV set up showing us pictures of our Soldiers. It was just so nicely done.
At about midnight, we were told the plane was approaching and we were allowed to go out on the flightline to see it land (we were at Biggs Air Field right here at Fort Bliss). We filed out to line up by a rope (it was soooooo cold!) and soon, there it was! The plane with all of our soldiers on board was taxiing down the runway! You should have heard the families screaming and clapping! It pulled up a little ways away and a color guard and military band filed out to play as the door opened and the Soldiers started down the steps. It was awesome! The most exciting part is that they filed right past the rope we were standing behind! Not too close because they had to go out-process (turn in their weapons, etc.) before we could reunite. It was hard to make out who was who because, of course, they were all dressed alike and it was dark; but, we were able to find Steve because Chaplains don't carry a weapon -- we just looked for the Soldier without a weapon. And there he was! Our friends and the kids and I screamed to him at the top of our lungs and he heard us and turned around and actually saw us and waved! It was so exciting!
Then, we had to go back in the hangar and wait. Yes, that was hard, but it was worth it! A little less than an hour later our Rear Detachment Commander came out and told us that our Soldiers were outside the hangar door and that if we didn't respond when they knocked, they wouldn't come in. A few seconds later, three loud knocks on the hangar door! The families went wild! So the door slowly slid up, dry ice was set off in the doorway and our Soldiers, led by the Color Guard, marched in through the smoke and came to a halt 6 feet in front of us! They left faced and we were looking right at them! We even saw Steve right in the front (which is no small feat considering there were so many!) We were all SOOO excited! Then they dismissed them and chaos reigned as everyone ran for their Soldier! We found Steve amidst the chaos. I let him at the girls first and when they'd had their hugs and kisses, I went in for mine! It was so good to have him right there once again and we've been celebrating ever since!
Thanks so much for all your prayers that sustained us through this year apart. We're fully enjoying our reunion!