Special Report: Heroes Come Home - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Heroes Come Home

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

 The war in Afghanistan is winding down... but tens of thousands of US troops are still deployed there in dangerous places. We don't always think about their families and the challenges they face while loved ones are deployed.

Christian Kunzman 1st Grader Sgt. Eric Kunzman Moody Fireman Crystal Kunzman Mother Master Sgt. Tim Kaluza Moody Airman

It was an ordinary day for 6-year-old Christian Kunzman. He was told his class would be given a demonstration by a group of firefighters. Little did he know his father who he hadn't seen in a year was hiding under the fireman's mask.

It was a long awaited homecoming for this family. Sergeant Eric Kunzman spent the past year in Korea working as a firefighter for Moody Air Force on the Osaun Air Base. His little boy said there's only one thing he wants to do with his dad now that he's home... "Keep him!"

Kunzman says these next couple days he and his son will have to get to know each other again.

"After being gone for so long you really have to relearn each other's little quirks and you know how to be that dad again."

Wife Crystal says it wasn't easy having her other half thousands of miles away, but she says that's the sacrifice you make being a military wife. "You have no choice, you've got to pick it up and keep going. Especially when you have a kid, you can't cry, you can't sit on the couch; you just have to keep it together because otherwise if it falls apart, it falls apart for them."

Crystal says even with communicating through technology like Skype, it was still hard for her son to understand why his dad wasn't home. "On the computer, you know he saw him but he couldn't touch him and he didn't understand that. The entire year he kept asking 'why I can't see him, why can't I hold him, I want a hug.'"

Mom says she expects these two to be inseparable the next few weeks. "I'm going to be as big as daddy so I can be a firefighter," said the little fellow. 

And back from an 8 month long deployment in Afghanistan, Master Sergeant Tim Kaluza surprises his 4-year-old daughter in her classroom. This Moody airman says it was hard to keep the homecoming surprise a secret.

"It was kind of overwhelming in a way, but seeing the look on her face and everything, makes everything worthwhile."

The father of three says these next couple days are crucial for his family... and they're spending it on vacation. "We're going to go up to Stone Mountain and just kind of lay low and spent time as a family together."

Both fathers say its special homecomings like these that make them realize what matters most. He Kunzman family is already on their next adventure. Sgt. Eric Kunzman has just been transferred to Washington State.

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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