Friday, January 2, 2009


****Warning: PICTURE HEAVY POST - I was trying to "share the moment." Sorry!
. . .and it feels SO good!

On a cold day in January, New Year's Day to be exact, the Key Family was back together again. And we could not be more thrilled!

Mom, Dad, Jess, Spence, 4 dogs, a cat, and I all headed to Ft. Stewart on New Year's Eve. (I will admit to forgetting several times that it was even a holiday. When my cell phone rang at 12:02 and I heard David's sweet voice telling me "Happy New Year!" as he was sitting on a plane in Kuwait, I did not even know what time it was!)

We had to get prepared for a hero's welcome! Signs to hang, tables to set, snacks to make, beer to chill. . . Mimi and Poppy came down. David's dad, Harold and his wife Joyce came up. And some of our dearest friends, Roy and Peggy Webb came down. We spent all day getting ready for the big event. David was updating us via his cell phone throughout the day. And we tracked him on the Ft. Stewart Website. Also, we had the advantage of having Daddy getting updates from colleagues at USTRANSCOM.
Hanging a sign to greet him at the gate.
A sign at the house, too. . . It takes a village!
Mmmmmm . . . CAKE!

At 7 PM, we loaded up to head to my favorite field in the whole world, Cottrell Field, the location for homecomings at Ft. Stewart. This is one of my favorite parts of the 3d ID. Some units let families go to the air field, so you are reunited briefly only for them to leave again to turn in equipment, etc. Not here! The families are at Stewart when they fly into Hunter Army Air Field. They get everything squared away, and then they are bused to Ft. Stewart. So when they are released, it is for keeps.

Boy was it cold, or so everyone kept saying. I was so excited that I did not notice. When we were walking from the parking lot, I kept getting ahead of everyone. I was not trying to be rude! I just couldn't wait to get there. David kept calling me to tell me where they were. Since he was a part of the trail party, there were only about 70 people coming home with him.
David's fan club

Waiting IMpatiently. . . (note the beer balloon!)

David's Dad and his wife

The Queen, who did not move unless someone moved her. This is where she sat - David came to her!

The whole thing went down something like this:

The buses pull onto post.
Watching for the buses - David let us know they were passing through the gate.

The MPs are escorting them with sirens and lights on. The bus drivers honk the horns. The crowd screams! I cannot ever accurately describe how awesome these moments are. Tears stream down my face, and I cannot believe that the time has finally arrived. The buses make a loop and pull up on the opposite side of the field for the soldiers to unload and form up to march across the field toward where we were standing. What a sight! Mom and I realized it is hard to scream and cheer when you are bawling. . .

I must say that last night the commander of the formation did a particularly good job. And he was by far the most handsome. (Can you guess who it was??)

Our soldier!! Our Hero!!

The idea of a "ceremony" used to make me mad. I thought, how rude to make us wait even one second longer than we have to in order to see our loved ones. BUT this being my third ceremony, I can tell you that it is very short and so special and so worth it. They play the National Anthem. Someone talks about what phenomenal soldiers we have (how true!). Then we sing the 3d ID song, "The Dog Face Soldier Song" and the Army Song. And then the formation is released!
Doesn't he look good???

David and I have a prearranged meeting place because it is sometimes dark and always crowded. I also bring a balloon to identify us. Last night it was a big, frothy BEER! So in order to avoid missing each other in the confusion, I stay put. Since he was at the front last night, it was not hard at all to find each other. I am pretty sure I knocked a few people out of the way (sorry!) when I ran toward him!
Look at those happy faces! I couldn't let him get too far away!
Spencer was in my arms, with tears steaming down his face, too. We all hugged. Everyone else rushed up to hug our sweet soldier. The only person who did not move was the queen, Jessa Lynn. She stayed in her seat, all covered up in May's jacket. David made his way to her and she was most excited!

Jessa, the Queen when David got to her. Jessa sitting on his leg - the thing she said she missed most was riding on his leg when he got home from work everyday. Her plan for months has been( 1.) Hug and kiss him (2.) sit on his foot and hold on his leg. Mission Accomplished.

The Crazy Keys!
David, Jess, Spence, and I came back to the house first. After all, he has never seen this house or his new dog, so I wanted him to have a minute before the crowd came. The kids were overjoyed! You never know with little guys how they are going to act. Sometimes they can be standoffish or shy or confused. But Jessa and Spencer were nothing short of elated.

Daddy HUGS!
They wanted to tell him everything, show him everything, make up for every minute he was away. It was almost as if they were afraid he would leave again, so they had to make every second count. Bless David's heart, he could not even talk to anyone else! No one minded because watching the babies in love with their Daddy was so precious.

Jessa kissed him every time she had to get up. Spencer said, Dad, Dad, Dad, about a million times! They argued over who would sit next to him. No one can hook their car seats but him. No one can fix them anything but him. Not only am I grateful for the break, but I am so tickled that they are picking up right where they left off.

The kids were not the only "children" who missed their Daddy. . . The furry babies were glad to welcome him home, too!!

Dunken and Stewart LOVE

Max meets his father for the first time
I can never express the sense of joy and relief that I feel every time David is home again, safe and sound. There are not words to say the way my heart leaps to see Jessa and Spencer in his arms. I appreciate all the many people who have supported us and prayed for us and loved us through this deployment. (Special thanks to my awesome family who allowed me to run their lives and invade their homes for months. I could not have done it without you.)

Right now, my D is sitting at the kids table, watching football, and having a tea party with Jess and Spence. ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD!
David and the kiddos spent all day getting reacquainted.
Bless his heart, he has not had a moment of silence.
But I think he kinda likes it. . .


MaryBeth said...

I am so glad that you guys had a wonderful homecoming! I am anxiously awaiting our R&R time coming up in March, but slightly afraid that the girls will just be that much more heartbroken when Scott leaves again. Hopefully we'll be reunited again for good in June or July!!

Thank you so much for your service, and I'm glad you are home safe!!

Carrie said...

What a beautiful reunion! I am so happy for all of you! What an answer to prayer. Thank you to all four of you for the sacrifices you make for me and my family and our security! Welcome home David!

WadeH said...

So glad to see that David made it home safe! Enjoy every minute.