CREATED Jun. 14, 2013
Bellevue, NE - Their mission is to provide intelligence and surveillance to national leadership. Tonight, the airmen of the 55th wing are back on American soil.
On the plane, they were airmen of the United States. Once they landed, their children and loved ones bombarded them and they regained their roles as mothers and fathers.
The hours on the plane seemed endless, "It was all surreal until the wheels came down," says Air Force captain Pete. "Up until that point, you don't know if you're going back to the point you just came from."
Pete joined nearly two hundred airmen who anxiously waited for their plane to land in Bellevue from a three month deployment to southwest Asia.
"It's pretty awesome, I've been gone for about one hundred days in another part of the world, we're all really excited to come back home," says Pete.
This is Pete's fifth deployment overseas. He has his own platoon of children at home who look up to their dad in uniform. Pete's youngest daughter learned to talk while he was away and he's not the only airmen to miss out on precious moments of childhood.
"People say don't count down the days just concentrate on the job at hand and it will come, but everybody counts, it's kind of hard not to," says Air Force captain Kevin.
This is also Kevin's fifth deployment; he's missed a lot each time he's sent overseas. Friday, Kevin embraced his daughter for the first time since she turned one. "She started walking while I was away.''
The greatest gift many of these men could receive this father's day is the chance to be a father at home.
"When you're deployed you don't have a concept of what day it is." Says Air Force captain John. "So it's nice to know I'm actually going to be home for my first father's day this year."
It's not the first or last deployment for these men and women in uniform. They're just thankful to be able to embrace each other again.
"It's the greatest feeling ever. Being gone is not fun, especially when you have a young baby at home," says John and his wife, Mary, agrees. "He was making a sacrifice for us and for the rest of his country and although it was hard being apart, it's helped us grow closer as a family."
The airmen who returned from deployment are involved in intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, for that reason, we cannot identify who they are.