VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Members of the 41st Rescue Squadron are back in South Georgia after spending months abroad on deployment.
Sunday, about 65 airmen had a tearful reunion with their friends and family at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta.
This particular squadron specializes in combat rescue of aircraft crews.
We spoke with one woman, who told us about how she was able to cope for so long without her husband. She gives most of the credit to her son.
“I’m a teacher so I stay very busy and coming home to him has actually been a relief and lot of fun to know that I have somebody home with me. It was hard at times but definitely easier having him around,” said Megan Schaake.
Her husband, Jacob, shared that the group spent more than four months in East Africa. When asked how he would describe Sunday’s reunion, he stated that it has been a long time coming.
Members of the 41st rescue squadron have returned to South Georgia after spending months deployed in East Africa.
About 65 airmen were reunited with friends and family in a tearful and exciting ceremony at Valdosta’s Moody Air Force Base.
“Come here, it’s OK, nope. It’s OK because you got me now," said a returning airmen.
A son burst into tears after seeing his dad for the first time in four months.
That was just one of many displays of emotion by the families who stood outside, jumping with joy, as their airmen came down the runway.
“We’re here to pick up daddy. He’s been gone for the last four and a half months, so we’re super excited to have him home," said Chelsea Emerick, wife of a returning airman.
Chelsea was there in the hanger, waiting for her husband. Although excited to see her husband, her main focus appeared to be her kids.
“I’ve gone through this several times but it’s the kids first deployment that they remember," explained Chelsea.
She wasn’t the only one.
“It was a little nerve wracking, but it was exciting because he hasn’t seen our 1 and a half year old in over four months," said Megan Schaake, wife of a returning airman.
After a 12-hour plane ride, it was the moment that she and so many others were waiting for.
“It was hard keeping it together and not just running over to them," said returning Airman Joshua Emerick.
The airmen were finally home and reunited with their kids.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re back in Georgia," said returning Airman Jacob Schaake.
“It’s really just a tremendous feeling, after not seeing your family four to five months, it really makes you feel warm in the heart," said returning Airman Victor Velazquez.
“I couldn’t believe how big he was. I’ve seen him on video, on FaceTime, and things like that. In person, he’s just so much bigger," said Jacob.
WALB asked how hard it was for them to be separated from their young children.
“You know it’s terrible. You got your wife and your son back home, waiting for you. That’s all you can think about all day," said Velazquez.
“Watching them grow up just in pictures is kind of tough. So, getting to see them in person again, it’s huge," said Joshua.
WALB asked the families about where they go from here and the answer was generally the same across the board.
They shared that they’re going to get some food.
One of the families already has the restaurant picked out.
“We’re going to get to go to Red Lobster and we’re going to have a really fun time with him," said Melody Emerick, Joshua’s daughter.