color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Following the Yellow Brick Road...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Following the Yellow Brick Road...

From WTVM television - Columbus, GA...

More than one thousand Third Brigade soldiers will be returning to Fort Benning Monday, after a year long deployment in Iraq. The soldiers will arrive on four different flights.


Not sure if any of The Guys will be in that group... but I'm hoping... since I saw that one of the Guys had been online earlier this morning (my time) for the first time in more than a week (since they moved from buildings to tents to allow their replacements to move in), I'm hoping that means they might be in Kuwait rather than still in Iraq... Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying.... [Update: I just learned that all of Our Guys are in Kuwait!!! Don't ask me how I know (smile) but I know!! WHOOOHOOO! YIPPPEEE! YippeeAyyyYayyeKayee!]

More homecoming stories from the Third Infantry Division... WHOOOHOOO!! Note that the local veterans -- mostly Vietnam Vets and Gulf War -- are at EVERY single homecoming. Makes my heart sad to know that the Vietvets didn't get their homecomings as they should have... but the 3ID wives and moms are inviting these Vets to their parties for their veterans to thank and honor them! (That's one of the soldier's Moms waiting with the vets... GO MOM!!)

Greetings! If you are receiving a copy of this email it is because you are a special person in my life and during the past year you've listened to me, supported me when I was worried and scared, and prayed for a safe return of my brother, Kyle.

Well, I'm happy to report.......HE'S ON AMERICAN SOIL!!!!!

In true Army style we weren't informed of the date he would be returning, but a 'window' of dates. Apparently, they are supposed to notify the families 24 hours before the arrival of our soldiers and they didn't. My Mom and I decided to drive to the base in GA and wait for them. It's a 12 hour drive and the first scheduled flight of soldiers was scheduled to arrive at 7:30pm so we left at 5am (or something around there - I was still asleep since I NEVER get up before 9am). While sitting in a traffic jam in Atlanta we received a call that Kyle would be arriving that night and was definitely on the manifest. Later we were notified that he was on the 12:30am flight, which is good since the traffic in GA and extreme storms slowed our journey.

(This pic is not Kyle... but baby Noah son of Tarsa and Shaun!)

We arrived in GA and received our first call from Kyle as he was standing in his first American airport in Maine. He said there were veterans of WWII, The Korean, and The Vietnam war there to greet them. Kyle and his friends were so excited to see American soil that they decided to kiss the ground. However, there was too much snow so they decided to buy a beer instead. We told Kyle we had arrived in GA and asked if there was anything he wanted and his only request was for a 6 pack of beer. Do you see a theme? Apparently, they hadn't been able to drink this past year.
After my Mom and I settled into our hotel room we went to the home of a friend who was waiting for her husband to return on the same flight. Everyone was very caught up in the moment. Her kids had made signs covered in glitter and there were huge bundles of balloons everywhere. The house was abuzz with a number of people who were also waiting for their husbands, boyfriends, etc. We found out that Kyle's flight was delayed and his arrival time was now approximately 2:30AM.
Around 12am, we went to the gym to wait for the soldiers. I can't describe the excitement and anticipation waiting for their arrival. There was a person who informed us of what was going on prior to seeing the soldiers. We were notified when their plane landed (gym started to get louder with excitement), when they had boarded the buses and would be arriving in approximately 1/2 hour (yet louder), when one of the busses broke down (moans and groans from the crowd), and when the soldiers were transferred from the broken bus to a working one (back to excitement).
More and more people arrived at the gym and the time was now 2:30am. Everyone was so excited. The army band was now playing upbeat music and TONS of kids were running around waiting for the return of their fathers. There were also a lot of babies who had never seen their dad (these soldiers had been gone for a year).
The military police escort the buses (there were 600 soldiers) to the base. 15 minutes until they arrive. 10 minutes until they arrive. Louder and louder were the people and the band. 5 minutes and everyone was told to enter the gym and take a seat. The soldiers wouldn't be allowed to enter the gym until everyone was inside. Well this 5 minutes extended to a good 10 and all I could do was stare at the door where we were told they would be entering. Every person that walked through that door was a disappointment because they weren't a soldier in a uniform. There were photographers coming in and out of the staging area for the soldiers. Finally, about 15 minutes later, one soldier (in uniform) popped his head around the corner. At this point, my heart is racing, my hands are shaking and yup, I'm in tears. Tears of anticipation. Is that possible? Well, it was for me.
The band started playing a march and I SWEAR.....we waited a good 5 more minutes. I fixated on that door with my camcorder handy. I didn't want to miss any of those soldiers as they walked through that door to a gym full of screaming family member, vets, and well wishers. It was almost 3am and you would never have known by looking at all the faces around me. I wasn't the only one crying.
AND THEN THEY ENTERED............THE SCREAMING WAS UNREAL AND THAT WAS JUST ME. I started shaking (which is apparent from the video I made). They all looked alike. Uniforms, helmets, backpacks. 600 of them. They lined up into 20 lines and I knew I'd never be able to find Kyle, but I didn't care. He was in the gym somewhere. And eventually I'd find him. THEN we saw him. He was actually in front of one of the lines. What are the chances, but it happened. I panned in on him and even though I shook I could still tell it was him.
Once all the soldiers had entered we stood for the Star Spangled Banner. Then someone (apparently someone of importance) spoke for exactly 27 seconds. We were told after the singing of two Army songs we would be released to locate our loved ones. We were given a warning about getting to the floor of the gym. The top row was told they WOULDN'T be the first one to the floor so be patient. Thankfully, I was in the third row and only women and children were spared of my pushing and shoving to get to the soldiers.
After the singing of the songs it was 'ready, set, go'. I knew where Kyle was so I was going to run right to him. Well, that didn't happen. Unbeknownst to us (until later), Kyle said all he saw was a crowd of people running towards him and all he wanted to do was get out of the way. I don't know how long it took, but it felt like forever. According to the camcorder (which was still running) it was at least 2 minutes. I kept seeing EVERYONE reuniting with someone and yet my Mom and I were running all over the floor trying to find him. AND WHEN I DID.........all I could do was scream (as if I hadn't done enough of that already). The rest is a fog, but according to the tape I ran across the gym floor into his arms. Screaming and crying. The biggest elephant tears I've ever cried. I can't remember the last time I cried for joy and relief. He was finally back!!
Here's a video of that homecoming from the local news... (click "Excitement Runs High at Late Night Homecoming" under Featured Videos)
how about another?? ("Mama" is one of the Moms on the Support 3ID private forum who has spent the year taking care of all her "chicks"and is the unofficial contact for everyone that needs a proverbial hand to hold while waiting -- she's a treasure!)
I got a call on Wednesday from Shane stating that he would deffinately be in on Thursday. We were orginally told that he would be flying into Hunter at 3:45 a.m., but we all know the Army and how things do tend to change. Well, we finally got a call from Rear D and was told that he would be arriving at 8:00 a.m. Well I was on pins an needles until I got the call from Shane when he was in Ireland that made it real that he would be ACTUALLY coming in. We get up bright and early on Thursday morning, (yea like I actually slept) and got ready to head up to the post.
We made it to Cotrell Field around 6 in the morning. Where we sat and waited, I paced. I called Mama to let her know when the plane had landed at Hunter, we all hollered and thank the LORD that they were safe on American Soil. We then about an hour later got the call they were on the buses on on their way, the whole crowd exploded, then the countdown began, to which I am calling Mama and being told to breath... when the buses got there I LOST IT!! Mama still telling me to breath. I did get a picture of the bus that Shane was on as it rounded the corner. It seem liked forever for them to unload the buses and march on the field. I have pictures... They march on the field and I am waiting in the spot where my husband told me to meet him. They do the talking and singing of "Dog Face Soldier" [that's the 3rd Infantry Division song - listen here] and the Army song, and then they TOLD US TO GIVE OUR HEROS A WELCOME HOME, I am waiting and then THERE HE COMES... WE RUN, WE HUG, WE KISS, and WE CRY... IT WAS AWESOME... I had a friend there with us also that had no family there, and we gave him a Hero's welcome also.. WE ARE SO THANKFUL TO YOU ALL, THANK YOU FOR THE PRAYERS, EVERYTHING...
Keyboard not wet enough? Well, then watch this video... (click - Soldier Proposes to Girlfriend at Homecoming)

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.


At 1/07/2006 2:57 PM , Blogger barb pfister said...

Hallelujah!!!!!!!! This is so great. Enjoy!!!!!!


At 1/07/2006 2:58 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

Love those reunion stories & videos. Thanks for sending those my way!

At 1/07/2006 6:06 PM , Blogger Maggie Goff said...

PUHLEEZE!!! preface any more posts like this as tissue/sob alerts. Halfway through the post I actually couldn't see, and my dogs were giving me that really concerned look they get when mom is crying. I'm on dialup at home now, and videos really don't work too well on here, but I'm going to be stopping into my workplace tomorrow just to watch the linked video. Thank goodness no one else will be there. Thank you, and I'm so happy for Your Guys.

At 1/07/2006 8:04 PM , Blogger Stacy said...

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing it with us.

At 1/08/2006 9:24 AM , Blogger RebeccaMcCormick said...

Me, too! I was crying with joy for you, remembering the day Wayne came home! Congratulations!

At 1/08/2006 11:24 AM , Blogger DaddysGirl said...

I'm so happy their home! I know how all that goes, unfortunately I wasn't able to be there at Robs first homecoming, and probably won't be at his second one late next year. But I still understand. I was totally crying from these.

At 1/08/2006 4:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news! You can sleep well tonight.

At 1/08/2006 5:13 PM , Blogger Shelley said...

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing, SM.

At 1/08/2006 6:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing and as a proud Maine-iac I have to let you know that WHENEVER troops land in Bangor, Maine, there are Troop Greeters there to welcome them. This has been going on for several years. It matters not what time of day or night, whether it is one soldier or hundreds, they are given a true Maine welcome and it is quite often shown on our local news.

I'm so glad your Guys are almost home!

At 1/08/2006 10:41 PM , Blogger yankeemom said...

Thanks for sharing that! I love Homecomings! And Hurrray! your guys are that much closer!!
I have learned to keep tissue by my computer at all times - It's that wear long sleeves...

At 1/09/2006 4:37 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

What a beautiful site. I want to extend a BIG THANK YOU to all the soldiers and their familes. They are the best.
May God bless them, always!


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