Saturday, November 22, 2008

WELCOME HOME!!!!

HE IS HOME!

Let me tell you, it is a great thing!

Currently he is "reintegration" which is a 7 day process that every soldier goes through when they come home. They do medical check ups, emotional/psychological, they do lots of briefings, and it is 7 days consecutively (except we will get Thanksgiving day off) so that there is a week's worth of accountability to make sure they aren't drinking too much or getting too crazy.

So he is there now, so I am going to full you in!

So yesterday at 3:00am I woke up and started get ready (though I was actually awake at 2, I made myself stay in bed til 3). I headed to the parking lot where everyone parks at 4am, and met up with my friends Karla and Chanel.

Me and Karla on the bus to the hanger.

Chanel and baby Briley on the bus!

So we got to the hanger around 4:15 and then sat around and waited until about 5:45. At that time they let us head outside (it was about 15 degrees out, literally-- VERY cold) to greet the plane. We stayed inside until the last possible minute for Briley's sake, but when we heard "Ladies and Gentlement, the Eagles have landed!" we RAN outside to see the plane!


Here is the stairway to heaven... hehe, the one that they will eventually deplane from... the plane is stili taxiing.

So now everyone is waiting outside, cheering when the plane arrives,
and freezing all our little butts off!Lots of people had signs and fun things like that.

So then they began streaming out of the plane, all clearly very exhausted, and most scanning the crowd to get a glimpse of family. Matthew actually spotted me, and when he waved I recognized him! It was so fun! (They had their gear, including helmet on, so identifying them was very tricky).



Matthew is the guy in front on this photo- he is behind the dude without a helmet.

After they arrived they got to set down their bags, weapons, body armor, kevlar (helmet), and then they formed up.


After spotting our husbands we ran back inside to defrost and wait for them to open the doors. The band began playing and as the doors were opening we heard them say "first strike"


I am pretty sure there is no possible way to describe the anticipation, the pride, the patriotism, the love, the excitement pulsing through every vein...

It was really quite something-- about 300 soldiers, all JUST off the plane form war, coming in to the band playing, marching in unison, families cheering. So cool. And honestly, kind of made me re-remember that this is a REALLY big deal.

Of course the Army had to have the Army Song sung, and the 101st Airborne Division song, and a General speak... but really the ceremony only lasted about 5 minutes, and that was good. Being able to see them RIGHT there was crazy!The General speaking.


The prayer.

And finally, they broke formation. We made eye contact amidst the crowds and found eachother, and embraced and... it was wonderful. It was fulfilling, it was so wonderful! I can't describe it! Of COURSE I cried, and Matthew did a little too-- it is all very overwhelming, and particularly after 4 days of traveling including one night spent on the sidewalk at the Baghdad airport (yeah...) he was a little tired :) SO good to see him, and wow, that is just a really huge understatement. My heart is in one piece again.


Here are our friends Chanel and Jonathan reuniting. Briley was born in May and Jonathan hasn't seen her since she was about a week old-- he has been gone since LAST september and was only home for his RR in May for her birth for about 2 weeks. I love the reunions of families with babies!
And then, 15 minutes later, they were gone again, out into the cold to collect their things and turn in their sensitive items (weapons, night vision, etc etc).
About 3 hours later we made it home.

My cheesey and poorly hung sign was awaiting him... kind of a joke since if you know Matthew you know he's not really a giant picture of me on a banner kind of guy, but hey... this is a big deal! So you know, you gotta pull out all the stops. And as for my shoddy hanging job, I blame it on my dwarf ladder, my lack of gloves, and the 20 degree weather when I was hanging it...

And so, we are reunited. It is great. I am so thrilled that he is home, and that we get to spend our holidays together! What a wonderful surprise! We have at least 12 months without deployment to look forward to enjoying, and we are going to live it up! Thanks to everyone for your prayers and encouragement while we've been apart, it has meant so much and really has been crucial to both of us!

We'll keep you posted on our adventures! For now I've got to go work on my final papers for school while he's at reintegration..... !

I'll leave you with the following pictures that I took off of the local newspaper- these are NOT my own photos, but some of them are neato.

See Chanel and Karla off to the right... that is Chanel's "YAY" sign!
SFC Mac is one of Matt's good friends, and his wife Joanne is one of my good friends!

Matthew is in this one, see if you can spot him! Behind him is Jonathan, and the second from the left in the front row is Luke Rella, Karla's husband!



12 comments:

melissa said...

Well...I cried. I LOVE the sign - that is perfect!!!!!!

I love you both so much and I am so happy that he is home. What a gift from God!

On a PS sidenote - I saw Twilight last night. Weeee!

Joanna said...

Wow...Claire. Wow. Congratulations. I am so excited for you. I hardly know what to say--but congratulations, have a ball. And tell Matt a warm welcome home for me.

jules said...

that is so exciting. i got a little teary as well :) I am so thrilled for the both of you, and I am so thankful he made it back safely. enjoy the holidays together miss!

Miss W said...

i had goosebumps reading this, Claire. I can't even imagine...I'm so happy for you both, thanks so much for posting so soon.

Ashley said...

Yeah, we are so thankful he is home safe with you!!!

Kimber said...

So glad to know that Matthew got home safely and you two have reunited. :)

Allison and Noah Riley said...

Yay! I was so happy reading this post. I'm so glad Matthew is home safe and the two of you reunited! Thank you both for your tremendous sacrifice. Love you both!

Whitney said...

It made me cry too. I'm so proud of my little brother. Can't wait to see you both in just under a month!

Chanel said...

Are you sure it was really that cold when the flight arrived? It sure didn't feel THAT cold. hahahaha :) (Lingering pregnancy hormones......)

Kimberly said...

Absolutely wonderful post!!! Next best thing to being there. Thanks for the pics and for sharing. I've been waiting with anticipation to see the joyful homecoming. Welcome home Matthew!!!! We are so glad you are home safely!

Natalie said...

Yay! So glad he is home and you two are back together. Since I now moved back to Ogden, maybe I'll see you guys when you visit at Christmas!

Lauren said...

Claire,
I totally cried when I read this. I'm so happy he's home. Enjoy your holidays sooooo much!!!