They risk their lives on a daily basis to make sure we sleep safe and sound and as we go about own usual routine, they step up to the plate and voluntarily put their lives on the line. Here are some of the most touching moments of our troops finally reuniting with their families.
After deploying to Iraq, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ammon finally returned home to South Burlington, VT, on May 22, 2006. Master Sergeant Rob Trubia took this heartwarming picture of Ammon being welcomed by his kids.
This little pooch jumped up and down uncontrollably when he noticed his owner after months of being deployed overseas. Unlike with humans, war and having to go away for a significant periodcannot be explained to dogs, meaning the minute the troop walked out the door and did not return, his dog was convinced he was gone for good. What makes this relationship even more remarkable is the fact that despite believing his owner was gone, that did not stop him from waiting for his return every single day.
Feeling That Bump
The homecoming soldier wanted nothing more than to feel his baby kicking. He has been waiting for that moment for months, dreaming of feeling that bump for the first time and meeting his long-awaited son or daughter. On those many nights apart, he dreamt of the songs he would sing to the belly and caressing the woman who was bringing their child into the world. He didn’t want to miss out on anything ever again, which is why he fell to his knees and wept.
Col. Daniel McMillen embraced his daughter for the first time since he had returned home from his yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. McMillen was reunited with his family at Stout Army Airfield in Indianapolis. McMillen served in the Indiana Army National Guard as an agricultural expert in 2-19th Agribusiness Development Team, a relatively newer concept that involves various of areas in the farming and business fields, including training rural Afghan farmers how to turn a profit from their crops as well as mentoring them on 21st-century farming strategies.
When I Grow Up…
5-year-old at the time, little Gavin Shaw could not hide his joy when he was finally in his father’s arms again. His father, Master Sergeant Adam Shaw was embraced lovingly by his family after rejoining them at a Welcome Home Ceremony made for approximately 230 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers on November 4, 2012, in Fort Carson, Colorado. The soldiers who participated in the ceremony were deployed in various regions of Afghanistan for nine months. Notice the delight in Gavin’s eyes as he learns his father is there to stay.
This warrior is a support paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and goes by the name Amanda Carrasco. Sergeant Carrasco returned from Afghanistan on September 9, 2012, and arrived at the Pope Army Airfield in Fort Bragg, N.C. Carrasco along with her fellow paratroopers. After spending six months in restive Ghazni Province, Sergeant Carrasco was welcomed by her loving husband who long awaited this reunion. He surprised his wife with her favorite Starbucks drink and a bouquet of flowers.
Mom And Dad Know Best
Sergeant Aaron Brewster was embraced by his parents Steve and Sharon Brewster after returning from his deployment in Afghanistan. U.S. Army Sergeant Aaron Brewster joined a welcome home party that was thrown on December 4th, 2012, in Fort Stewart, GA, and could not stop himself from weeping as he clung on to his parents tightly. Steve and Sharon were speechless as they saw their son for the first time in a long time, and wanted nothing more than to take their son home.
After many sleepless nights, this 123rd Airlift Wing soldier got his long-anticipated embrace from his wife and young son on November 10, 2012, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, KY. The Airman had just returned from a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and was one of 58 Kentucky Guardsmen to come back home. As visible in the picture, the Airman is flushed as he is overcome with joy to be back home with his loving, supporting family.
The baby ballerina was over the moon when she saw her daddy coming out of the glass doors in the airport. She wore her matching tutu skirt and scrunchy exactly for this moment, one she waited for for what seemed like an endless amount of time. Along with the helium balloon reading “Welcome home!” and her mom’s American flags and color coordinated pompoms, this greeting could not feel more festive. But in all honesty, all this soldier ever wanted was to be right back by their side, nothing more.
She might appear to be cheerful when she’s out there on the football field, waving her pom-poms high up in the air and doing double nines like there’s no tomorrow, but the reality is much different than the show she pulls off every game. The ambitious teen went home every night to a house missing the one person she wanted to see the most – her dad. That’s why she burst into tears of joy when he returned from his deployment and surprised her at the game.
Romantic At Heart
Christopher Tubbs returned from his 184 days away from his wife Sarah during the homecoming of the USS Enterprise at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia. The celebratory event took place on July 15, 2011, after traveling for a little over six months. The USS Enterprise sailed nearly 60,000 miles supporting our brave troops in operations over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Christopher could not wait to see Sarah, and after being apart for so long, he knew precisely what he wanted their reunion to be like – and acted on that romantic streak.
All I Want For Christmas
Private Dylan Ramirez held his sister, Adriana, after he surprised her and his two other siblings – Brisa and Mitch – with a short visit from his military base on December 19, 2016. The Geneva Elementary School in Orem, Utah, helped organize the entire surprise reunion. Brisa, the youngest one of them all who attended kindergarten at the time, sat on Santa’s lap that eventful day and revealed she only had one wish for Christmas: “I wanted a Barbie – and Dylan.” Then, on cue, Dylan came out of a big, red box.
U.S. Army Sergeant Jatorrio Brooks attended a homecoming ceremony thrown for approximately 200 soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team who returned home to Fort Stewart, GA. on December 8, 2008. In the picture, Sergeant Brooks is shown holding onto his son TyReeq and deeply breathing in his wife Stephanie’s scent, as if he wants to engrave this moment in perfect detail in his mind. The emotional moment was anticipated for so long, it felt unreal when it finally came true.
Never Letting Go
Lieutenant commander Heather Wyckoff decided to surprise her 5th grader son, Andrew after being away for nine months. She returned to their home in Fairfield and headed straight towards her son’s school, where she stunned Andrew by showing up in the cafeteria. Her husband was quoted saying that Andrew has “handled it as well as you can imagine a 10-year-old can handle it, being without his mom. You can just see how he longs for her.” Lieutenant commander Heather has been a nurse in the navy for 15 years.
A Leap Of Faith
On May 22, 2014, U.S. Army Sergeant and former Pi Kappa Alpha brother Clark Rahman arrived at his old college, Florida State, after being deployed for nine months in Afghanistan. He carefully planned how he would surprise his girlfriend, Lexi, in front of all their friends and when the day came, he couldn’t wait to see the expression on her face. As he walked on campus, his friends formed a line and saluted – then Lexi noticed who was standing right behind them and leaped into his arms.
Amber Simpkins was one of 140 Mississippi Army National Guard soldiers in the 1108th who were mobilized to Kuwait for one year. The move was made in order to support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan. In the picture, Amber just returned home from her year of deployment and greeted her daughter Elezia in the best way the two know how – making silly faces and playfully embracing one another as if speaking in a language that is solely their own.
The faces these two peas in a pod are making are indescribable – and we can’t blame them! As if it is possible to keep a straight face with that matching baby-daddy outfit… This baby has had quite enough of sharing his father with the rest of the world, showing a pure look of exhilaration as he excitedly screams with delight at the sight of his dad. His father was quick to mirror his son, creating this epic picture perfect moment.
Andrew Schwartz could not wait until he could hug his father again. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Eric Schwartz has been absent from home for a very long while, after being deployed in Iraq. He returned home to Fort Stewart, GA. on August 7, 2003, with the rest of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Andrew did not hold back when he came face to face with his father, whose helmet he wore proudly and would not take off until the reunion.
Never Letting Go
Specialist Nicholas Geraghty held his baby daughter, Aubrey, after a 400-day deployment in Iraq. Specialist Geraghty was at the Lane County Fairgrounds before the demobilization ceremony in Eugene, OR, along with the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and Oregon Army National Guard. On April 23, Geraghty was reunited with his family after spending over a year overseas, in which he carried out a mission meant to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Geraghty carefully held his newborn daughter, whose birth he sadly had to miss.
U.S. Army Private Sulala Thompson held her baby in her arms as she watched her fellow troops from the 549th Quartermaster Company and 43rd Sustainment Brigade come back after a seven-month deployment from Iraq. Fort Carson, Colorado had a lot of exultant, emotional family members wait patiently on the eve of November 10, 2011, as more than 100 soldiers were due to return home. Signs were hung, and chants were called out as the troops made their way towards the open arms of their significant others and family members.
Kiss The Pain Away
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Elama Palemene was welcomed home by his wife, Annaden, and children Ko’ Elani and Pe’ Ela on Sunday, December 18, 2011. A welcome home ceremony was held in the small hours of the night for approximately 300 U.S. Army 1st Cavalry 2nd Brigade soldiers. The returning troops met at Fort Hood, Texas, and there was no denying spirits were high. As the soldiers marched towards their families, there was not a single dry eye in the house.
Only two days after Sergeant Travis Rust tied the knot with his new wife, Lindsey, he was deployed to Kuwait. “There were a lot of people at the wedding that didn’t know I was leaving so quickly,” said Travis to KSNB, “It made a happy event kind of sad for my family”. After more than a year went by, it was time for Sergeant Rust to return home from the Middle East. In the same interview, he said he looks forward to having a belated honeymoon with his wife.
The year was 2012, and a former Task Force Spartan Soldier at the Wheeler Sack Army Airfield was waiting to capture the perfect moment portraying soldiers reuniting with their families and friends. What the talented photographer did not expect is for his finger to click like a reflex the moment this Fort Wainwright soldier walked off the plane, only to be jumped on lovingly by his dog. This sweet reunion was long overdue after the soldier’s long deployment and flight home from Afghanistan.
Here To Stay
Janet Allegra was overwhelmed the minute her son, Specialist John Allegra IV, came off the plane after being deployed to Iraq one year before. Along with over 100 soldiers from the 250th Engineer Co. Connecticut National Guard, John returned home at the Army aviation support facility in Windsor Locks, Connecticut on August 25, 2010. Janet wept hysterically and could not get a word out after seeing her son was safe and sound and thanked God for looking over her boy during that dangerous time.
Private First Class Zachary Baumer has been away from home for far too long, being deployed overseas. His girlfriend, Marissa, attended a Cavs versus Sixers game back home when she was offered to play a little game during a timeout with the chance to win passes to a fancy buffet. Then the host turned to perplexed Marissa and said she won the prize without having to play – and she had another gift coming. At that exact moment, Zachary came out of the cheering crowd and proposed. Obviously, Marissa said yes!
Good To Have You Back
U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Dutton was welcomed into the arms of the two most important women in his life – his wife, Sabrina, as well as his mother, Mattie. The emotional homecoming took place in Glennville, GA. during a ceremony that was held especially for the the 3rd Infantry Division, who returned home and to their loved ones on March 26 in 2008. Sergeant Charles seems very appreciative of being in the presence of his wife, as his mother clings onto him with gratitude in her eyes.
Going All Out
This perky pregnant wife had one thing on her mind when her husband was deployed – to get him back home! The award for the most creative and funny sign held at a homecoming ceremony definitely goes to this woman, who thought of a fantastic way to let her hubby know the easiest way to get on her good side – and that is to spend time with her. That is certainly understandable, considering how she long she waited to have him by her side.
Beaming With Pride
On November 23, 2013, after a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan, Georgia Army National Guard Captain Chad Tyson finally received a long-awaited hug from his son Chase. Chase planned this moment carefully and knew his father would be filled with pride seeing Chase dressed up in a matching U.S. army uniform, and right he was. The two ran into each other’s arms during a welcome home ceremony that was put up for the Georgia National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team III in Marietta, GA.
Best Present Ever
The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers flew home on December 20, 2012, after completing demobilization at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Georgia Army National Guard First Lieutenant Jonathan Kiel was one of those troops, who was particularly excited to get to spend Christmas with his family. More than 100 soldiers returned that eventful day. Kiel is seen in the picture, hugging his one-year-old daughter Molly. His wife watches her husband and young daughter stare into each other’s eyes lovingly and smiles at the joyful reunion.
God Bless America
This Marine of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment was overjoyed as he landed the plane and embraced his family, whom he has missed greatly. Thankful for being back home and in the Land of the Free, the Marine kissed the tarmac and wept quietly while his son and daughter stood by and watched. They look up to their father, and so watching him praise the ground he was standing on was very influential. All were at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mount Clemens, Mich. on April 29, 2007.
Apple Doesn’t Fall Far
Some moments are too precious not to capture and some looks simply cannot be described. Sergeant Alejandro Delaluz of the Army Reserve 379th Chemical Company was just barely able to hold back his emotion the minute his two-year-old son, Alexander, was placed in his arms. The two finally got their chance to reunite during a welcome home ceremony that was thrown on the troops’ behalf in Arlington Heights, Ill. on February 4, 2005. The pure look of admiration and love in little Alexander’s eyes say it all.
Lift Me Like A Plane
This young boy could not sit by calmly and watch as his father, who was deployed to Afganistan for over six months, came off the plane. Instead of sitting still and waiting until he was given the okay signal to approach his dad, the boy decided to act on impulse and do exactly what he wanted at that point – to run towards his dad, leap into his arms and give him the biggest hug he could. His serviceman dad looks just as excited as his child.
“I Want My Daddy”
Usually, it’s Santa who is in charge of delivering all the presents to those who have been good, and this time was no exception. As six-year-old Jordynn Baskerville sat on Santa’s lap and contemplated what she wanted that holiday season, her father, Sergeant Trent Baskerville, was hiding behind a pile of presents, waiting to make her wish come true. “I want my daddy to come hope,” whispered the child, who was at the mall with her mom and 1-year-old little sister. Then, Trent surprised her.
Troop Brandon Smith wanted to surprise his mother, nurse Tammy, in the hospital she works at, so he thought – what better way to surprise her than let her believe that I’ve been injured and evacuated to this hospital to treat my wounds? Well, that prank-turned-surprise failed since Tammy was so preoccupied with work, she didn’t notice it was her son’s name on the chart she was handed. Only when she entered the room and saw him did she understand her baby was home.
You Came Home
What hurts the most when having one of your parents live overseas is the fact that they aren’t there for the little things. They have to miss out on Christmas morning gift opening, birthday cake candles, basketball games, and the list goes on. That is why young Adam could not keep it together when he spotted his dad in his school hall, the one place he never expected to see him. Both cried with joy the moment they were reunited.
Julia and Brian Woodburn are a married couple who both serve in the U.S. Army. As fate would have it, the two have been deployed for a long while, resulting in a separation not only from one another but also tearing them apart from their only daughter, Addison. To make the most of surprising Addison with their return home, Julia and Brian thought of an original idea – they showed up during a magic show at Gilbert Jr. High in Louisiana. Needless to say, their girl was on cloud nine.
Private Dance Party
Staff Sergeant Jason Jenkins twirled his daughter, Kaelyn, at the homecoming ceremony that was thrown for the entire Illinois National Guard’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment. Their little dance took place right before the Freedom Salute Ceremony at the Cicero Community Center in Cicero, on a warm summer’s day on August 24, 2013. The two seemed to not have a care in the world and paid no attention of the people who were surrounding them, as they were way too preoccupied with celebrating the fact “daddy is home.”
This army Ranger in training did not know if he was going to make it home in time. Although rumor had it he was due to come back on leave for the holidays, Christmas Eve was fast approaching, but the thought of getting to spend it with his wife, family and friends felt too good to be true. But a promise is a promise – and before he knew it, the Ranger was on a plane heading home. When he finally arrived, his wife smiled widely and presented this sign.
Florida State Football Fun
A Florida State University football game is a must-attend, but these joyous circumstances made it all the more exciting. U.S. Army soldier Ryan Otto knew his wife, Jennifer, and their four children would come to watch the game, so he made arrangements that they would stand on the field in front of 80,000 people and stun them with his sudden appearance. Considering the fact it just so happened to be Veteran’s Day the date of the game, it was the perfect, heartwarming surprise.
Man’s Best Friend
Man’s best friend might not be related to us by blood or fought with us over the bigger piece of the turkey on Thanksgiving, but that does not make this any less of a family member than the rest of them. In this picture, the soldier is finally home and is embraced with a long lick across the face, an act of affection meant to demonstrate how much this pooch missed his owner, an emotion we’re convinced was felt by the troop just as immensely.