The gig is up! We're in Georgia! Clint and I traveled Friday, from Champaign to Fort Benning Georgia, to meet Brian on Saturday morning, flying in from Kuwait. Moore flew in a week ago, and met us at Freedom Hall at 7:30 in the morning for the last leg of the wait.
It's been an emotional, exciting, busy weekend, chockful of laughter. I have so much to tell, and I promise to give you the scoop after I get home, and recover from this trip. We'll head home tomorrow, and Brian will begin reintegration classes on Tuesday. He and Moore will roll in to Champaign for their "Home Homecoming" on June 5.
In the meantime, here are a few from yesterday.
Here's the plane coming in. There's a 2-hour wait from landing time until you get to see your soldier.
The plane isn't located where you can see the soldiers depart. There were plenty of huge screens inside Freedom Hall, so that you could watch them come in.
There were about 8 of us, out of literally hundreds of families, that were lucky enough to get a tip from a soldier inside the fence: After they departed, the soldiers would go inside...and then come back outside to line up and turn in their weapons. If we stuck around, we'd get a sneak preview of ours.
Gah! There are 2 of mine! My own kid, and John Standish, below in black glasses, entered the door together. We whooped and hollered for their attention....
Glee! Joyful glee. As luck would have it, Standish's mother was one of the other 8 that got the word. Once we both began cheering for ours, we began jumping around and cheering each other: You're Standish's Mom? You're Jolley's Mom? "Your kid has been to my house!!!" we said in unison. Jolley and Standish end up wondering how in the heck their mother's managed to find one another. It was pure dumb luck.
After ours went on in for 2 more hours of processing, we ended up heading inside for free donuts and pacing the floor. I was so proud that I cheered and laughed when Brian came in. Could it it be that I wouldn't fall apart, after weeping from emotion all week, that my kid was OUT of Iraq?
The Army folks are good at letting you know what's going on, and how much longer it will be before you get your grubby little hands on your soldier.
There is deafening cheering when the doors open and these guys march in formation.
The Army folks are also wise to something else, at this point: We, the families, don't much care about lengthy speeches. The National Anthem is played, a 2-minute speech announcing them home is made, and then, before we crash the gates:
"Families, find your soldiers."
I can actually see mine, in this photo. Can you?
And the not crying stuff was hogwash. I lost it.
I just love this picture. I'm crying my eyes out, and Brian:
I got it out of my system, and bucked up. We found more of ours: Kyle Lathrop has been to my house a few times:
Aaaaaaaaand we're out of there. He's ours, he's ours, and we drag him out to re-introduce him to green grass, and trees with leaves, which he finds very, very sweet.
First stop: The barracks, to find some civvies:
Family Readiness Group has been there. A few toiletries, towels, and a bag filled with snacks is what awaits him when he gets in:
And, to his relief:
He can't wait to get out of those fatigues, and I can't help trying them on, for size.
My sons are home, people.
I feel light enough to float.