About 300 local airmen were officially welcomed home at the “Heroes Welcoming Heroes” ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on Thursday night.
The ceremony is held twice a year to celebrate the service of local military members and provide a night of fun activities for their families.
For some airmen recently home, the event is one of their first chances to spend some quality time with their spouses and children.
“I got back about two weeks ago,” said Master Sgt. William Harper. “You can’t even comprehend how much you miss the states until you’ve been gone to a place like that for so long.”
Harper was deployed to Afghanistan for six months. He was attending the event with his wife and three children, ages 6, 9 and 11.
“It means everything to come back and see how everyone appreciates what we do over there,” Harper said.
The ceremony is no less special for those who have been home for a few months.
“It’s amazing that they put this together,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Hayden. He was attending with his wife, Eunyoung Hayden, and their 15-month-old daughter Kira.
He said being away from his new wife and baby was the hardest part of being in Kuwait for six months last year.
“I didn’t have a driver’s license. I had a new baby,” said Eunyoung Hayden. She had just moved to the United States from Korea when her husband was deployed last June.
Hayden said his daughter is finally getting used to having her dad home. “She wouldn’t even let me hold her for about two weeks,” he said. “Now she’s constantly running around the house like, ‘da-da da-da.’ ”