270 soldiers return home to Hunter Army Airfield and Ft Stewart - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

270 soldiers return home to Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart


270 soldiers are back on American soil are reunited with their loved ones after nine months in Afghanistan.

110 members of the 3rd Aviation Combat Brigade made a dramatic entrance to roaring applause.  At Fort Stewart, a similar reception greeted 160 3rd Infantry soldiers. These men and women weathered the elements, harsh conditions and dangerous attacks overseas and they are finally home tonight.

They all flew into Hunter Army Airfield, all 270 soldiers. They were processed and 160 hopped buses to Fort Stewart while the other 110 were just a football field's length from seeing those smiling, familiar faces.

However, for some of those soldiers, they were also seeing the little ones they hadn't met yet.

The Parker family waited patiently for CW4 Joshua Parker, who would be meeting one daughter for the first time, and seeing his baby girl is now walking, and running, now.

"This is who she knows as daddy, this is daddy," Stefanie Parker told WTOC, holding a stuffed soldier doll with a picture of her husband attached to the face of the doll. "I think she will be surprised when the real daddy gets here. He is much bigger."

At Hunter, they didn't have to wait long as WTOC showed you live at 6:00pm, the hangar doors opened and the soldiers marched in.

Little Abigail Parker didn't have to kiss her daddy's picture in a stuffed soldier doll anymore. She got to kiss the real daddy.

"Indescribable. Don't have words for it," CW4 Joshua Parker told WTOC.

Parker, a Medivac pilot for the brigade, saw a lot in Afghanistan, including wounded soldiers, like all of these men and women who now are able to hug and kiss the ones they love.

"It's kind of mixed emotions on days like this. My heart goes out to all the families who don't get to see their loved ones," Parker said. 

"It's something you think about every day for nine months," Suzanne McCurdy told WTOC.

McCurdy, an Air Force captain, knows the deal. It makes her reunion with husband, who have been stationed apart for three years, just as special.

"It's just amazing. I missed her so much and I love her," CW3 RJ McCurdy told WTOC.

While one homecoming wrapped up, another was underway at Fort Stewart. More fathers met baby sons and daughters for the first time. There was more affection, support and  signs, including, "Time to give my husband back."

"That was a great sign. Wasn't it? A little bit hard to see with everybody else," Lt. Col. Ben Garrett told WTOC.

Garrett deployed more than nine months ago. "It's a long year, we accomplished a lot and had some challenges as you know, but it is great to be home," Garrett said.

While CW4 Parker may not have had words to describe his feelings, his wife sure did.

"It's relieving. It's overwhelming. I know the first three months he will have to adjust to being home, with two little girls now." Stefanie Parker said. "He's a little outnumbered and a little overwhelmed I'm sure."

But he's home.

With more than 2200 soldiers deployed between Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, the casualty number, according to HAAF officials, stands at seven.

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