FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) – Sunday was an emotional day at Fort Sill as hundreds gathered to welcome their friends and family home from a year-long deployment.
The 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment was deployed in Kuwait. Sunday, they were welcomed home by hundreds of mothers, fathers, kids and spouses from all around the country. The event started with the soldiers marching in and concluded with a mad rush of family fleeing the stands, anxious to hug their loved ones after a long year away.
Specialist Johnathan Hardey with the 4-3 ADA was greeted Sunday by his wife, Emily, and his 7-month-old daughter, Ava Marie. He said he had been looking forward to Sunday for quite some time.
"I was excited, I didn't know what to expect really," Hardey said. "My wife ran up and started hugging me. I had no idea where she was at in here so she ran up to me."
Hundreds of other soldiers had that special moment Sunday, including Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Woodruff, who was greeted by his wife, three kids and parents who drove down from Ohio.
"It's hard to put into words but it's just a tremendous, tremendous moment," Woodruff said. "It really touches your heart."
Sunday was Lieutenant Colonel Woodruff's fourth time to experience an emotional homecoming. He said the moment is a great one for everyone involved.
"Every time it's a good feeling and even to watch other people, you know, family members whose service member had deployed for the first time is even more special I think," Woodruff said.
Lieutenant Colonel Woodruff said having that special moment is extremely important for the families and service members.
"As much as these soldiers would like to just go home and have a nap or have a nice meal, I think it really touches their hearts to see the community, their family and the military leadership to come out and thank them," Woodruff said.
After the 26 hour-long flight from Kuwait, Specialist Hardey said he had one thing he was especially looking forward to.
"I want to go home and take a shower," Hardey said.