Monday, June 11, 2007

Walking Off the Plane

I finally made it home. But not before a 2+ hour flight home. Once again I was blown away by the support of total strangers. As we boarded our flight to Salt Lake (there were 4 of us – two of us from Afghanistan and 2 from Iraq) the flight attendant asked me where we were coming from – again, that senior officer thing, I was the first soldier on the plane – I told here that we were coming home on leave from Afghanistan and Iraq. I was able to sit in the “first” part of the plane (yes, I flew first class again – it’s shameful but I loved it!) and as the people would pass me, some would shake my hand and thank me for my service, others would smile, some would pat me on the shoulder – it was great. After we were all boarded, the flight attendant got on the speaker and announced that there were 4 soldiers on their way home from the Middle East and on behalf of the crew and passengers, wanted to thank us for our service. The plane then broke into clapping and cheering. Once again I was moved by the support of total strangers.

OK, now I finally made it home. When the plane landed in Salt Lake I can’t really describe the feeling of gratitude I had for making it home safely.

Since I was in the front of the plane I was one of the first ones off the plane. And there they were, my wonderful family. I don't think I've seen a more amazing sight - my beautiful wife Janae and my handsome sons. (Janae was able to get passes for them all to go through security and meet me at the gate.) Once again my eyes welled up with tears as I looked at them. It had been almost 10 months since I’d seen them so you can imagine the joy we all felt at being reunited. Hugs and kisses were shared, even with Luke who normally will not let me kiss him. Well he allowed me to give him at least one kiss before he declared that that was enough. But that was fine, just being with them was again was such a great thing.

And thus started my leave. Actually, that was day zero and since I got home around 3:15 in the afternoon it was like having a half day free. Boy was it great to finally be home.

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