Tears were shed and hugs and kisses were exchanged at Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado Springs on Tuesday morning as about 120 troops reunited with their families after a nine-month tour in the Middle East.
The 4th Sustainment Brigade maintained equipment to support forces that trained the Iraqi military.
Amber Bearden waited in the gymnasium where the ceremony was held with her 2-month-old baby, Jaxon. A hand-made sign that read “My hero is finally home! I call him daddy” was taped to the baby’s stroller.
“I’m just ready to get home and do normal again,” she said. “We’ll probably go home and I’ll probably end up making dinner and (Caleb) will probably end up drinking a beer.”
Bearden and Jaxon were joined by friends Nataly Cromartie and Jazlyn Davila, who also waited for their spouses.
“I haven’t slept,” Davila said, adding that she was nervous and had butterflies. “The last five months it went by smooth. The first couple of months it was hard.”
Some people brought snacks and food to greet their loved ones while others had balloons in tow. The troops walked into the gymnasium in formation as the Toby Keith song “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue” played overhead.
When the soldiers were dismissed, they shouted with excitement, some even running across the gym to reunite with their families on the bleachers.
Davila and her husband, Brian, greeted each other with a hug and kiss. They laughed about the tension during the ceremony and watching each other from across the gym.
“I’m over here looking and it’s that excitement and you’re getting anxious so I was real anxious and I didn’t know where I was going to find her at,” Brian Davila said.
Caleb Bearden cuddled his son in his arms. He was able to meet Jaxon right after he was born and marvelled at how much the baby has grown.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen him this big,” he said. “When I first (saw) him he was as big as my hand.”
Parents Hector and Anna Valdez had tears in their eyes as they hugged their son, Justin Valdez. They flew to Colorado from San Diego for their son’s return ceremony.
“We’re just so very proud of him,” Anna Valdez said. “He’s our first son to be in the military. We’re proud of him, thankful for America and the men and women that serve.”