First flight of Alaska Army paratroopers returns
They are finally home -- the first flight of Alaska Army paratroopers returned from Afghanistan late Sunday afternoon.
More than 300 soldiers were reunited with their families, who've been waiting months for the homecoming.
The moment took a few more hours than expected -- the service members were originally scheduled to arrive at 1:30 p.m. but didn't end up seeing family until around 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, spouses, children, parents and friends waited anxiously in a hangar with no windows, ready to see their soldiers.
"I'm excited, I'm nervous. You know, we waited a long time," said Karen Sedillo, as she waited for her husband with her two small children. "This is the longest they've gone without seeing their dad, so they're super excited."
Sedillo says she and her daughters just moved Alaska just before her husband deployed.
"So we had to kind of figure out the snow and everything else that comes with Alaska by ourselves," Sedillo chuckled.
Now, the long winter and wait are almost over.
"It seems like forever ago," said Morgan Nino, who last saw her husband in September. "I'm thinking like, 'okay, how am I going to spot him out in the crowd of all the soldiers?' And just, it's going to be nice to have him home."
Although he's been gone for months, Nino says she's spoken with her spouse almost every day.
"On a good day it would be like half an hour, sometimes it was just a quick like 'hey, I miss you' and that was it," Nino said.
Even so, she says it hasn't been easy.
"I miss just being able to laugh with him. He's very goofy, so, and I'm a very serious person, so he always is able to just take the edge off of things by making me laugh," Nino said.
After so many months apart, it's hard to know what to expect when the time comes.
"You know what happens sometimes? Sometimes from being away, you're just not sure what you should think or what you should feel or daddy or mommy's thinking," a military member explained to children waiting for their parents. "But mommy or daddy loves you, that's all they're thinking about."
Now, not only can the families can finally see each other, they can also feel the love too.
More paratroopers are expected to return home later this month.
On Tuesday, Alaska Army officials announced the first death in the deployment of the Anchorage Spartan Brigade. Gabriel David Conde, 22, was killed in what the military describes as enemy small arms fire.
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