Monday, September 6, 2010

Homecoming - The Official Photo Tour

It's finally over!  This stupid deployment really truly is finally done and our family is back together.  Gunnar came home early Thursday morning (9/02).  There were flight delays in Bulgaria which prevented him from coming home when he was actually scheduled the previous day.  So when he landed at Bangor, Maine at 2:30am on Thursday, being so excited to finally come home, Gunnar was texting me at a furious pace.  I can't say I blame him.  His cell phone is worthless in Afghanistan and I think he was just excited to be using it again.  Then he called, and we were on the phone until 3:45am.  Basically, there was no point in going to sleep for 15 minutes so I stayed up and got ready.  I got dressed up, pulled the sleepy kids out of the bed at 4:45am and were in the car heading to the Pope Air Force base.  It's really only about a 15 minute drive but the plane was scheduled to land at 6:40am and we're supposed to be there 60-90 minutes in advance.  While I was on the way, I got an automated call from Gunnar's unit saying that the plane is actually early, and will be landing at 6:10am.  Sheesh, people!  Just pick a day and time and stick with it! 

It was still pitch black when we arrived and parked.  Of course we had to walk a half mile through a field of damp grass to get to the hangar where the soldiers would come in.  Good thing I wore sandals and not the heels that I was going to!
Gus and Maisie enjoying their first-ever Pop-Tart (breakfast choices are quite limited at 5am)

There's an airplane out there somewhere - it was parked far back and we couldn't see.  Also - what is this crazy lady wearing?  It was some crazy Uncle Sam costume.  Weird.

Lots of people, lots of signs.

We had to stand behind this rope for a very long time.  I took the double jogging stroller with me and positioned myself in the front row.  Oh, believe me, many tried to creep into my space, and many failed.

Then all of the soldiers filed in, walking in perfect rows.  It was a sight to be seen!  There were about 300 total, but this was really all I could see.  I'm slightly short, apparently.

Not that you can tell, but Gunnar is there in the front row.  He saw us immediately.  


So we finally got our 15 minutes together and boy, did they go by fast!  Gus was thrilled to see his Daddy finally, but Maisie didn't quite know what to think.  The atmosphere was pretty overwhelming and the poor kid was exhausted.  She came around pretty quickly though.  
After our 15 minutes were up, the soldiers piled into buses and headed back to the other end of base to their unit headquarters for some in-processing.  They needed to turn in their weapons and get their bags.  It worked out well though because it took me nearly an hour to get out of the parking lot at the Air Force Base.  These types of scenarios really make me think I should be in charge of more things in general.  For example, I would build a road with more lanes.  Duh.  The kids fell asleep though, so it all worked out fine.  I was able to stop at our house, get some more coffee and head over to the unit.  The kids got a decent nap and when they woke up, we went to find Gunnar in a sea of guys that looked like this...

Camouflage is mighty effective, wouldn't you say?

Of course he found us quickly and we basically hung around outside most of the morning. The Army is very highly skilled at creating tons of downtime.  

"Glad your back..."  Sorry, I had to do it.  There's simply no excuse for not properly contracting words when ironing them to a tank top.

We ended up home by noon, which I suppose is typical.  It took about 6 hours from when they landed till when Gunnar was released and allowed to come home.  We got lucky and he came home right before the Labor Day weekend so tomorrow will actually be his first day at "work" since he returned.  I hired a photographer to capture some of our reunion moments as well so I'll be posting them soon too.