Airmen reunite with families after deployment

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - As the KC-135 taxied across the Key Field Air National Guard Base, a group of people was watching eagerly to catch a glimpse of their loved ones.

"This is my baby girl. It's been a long 6 months," Mary Sanders says.

Sanders' daughter was one of about 40 members from the 186th Air Refueling Wing who have spent the last 6 months at different locations in the Central Command area. Those men and women have been working in the security forces and civil engineer squadrons. So for these families - it's been a long-awaited return.

"I'm expecting chaos for the first little bit and just trying to find our new normal," Bethany Garrett says about her husband's return. "We'll be excited. I have three boys, so they're excited. They're ready to wrestle and play."

When the men and women stepped off that bus, they were met with smiles, tears and lots of hugs.

"We're newlyweds, so it was difficult with him being gone, but him being back, it's amazing," Noel Denham says about her husband's deployment.

For one guardsmen, it was more than just a chance to rejoin his family; it was a special meeting.

"His third baby girl was born after he deployed, so today is the first day he's seen her and been able to hold her," Cathy Stone explains as her son hugs his daughter.

"It's overwhelming. It's really great," John Stone says. "But I had a great support system and technology's really awesome. So I didn't miss much."

"I'm really proud of him, but I am so proud of all the military that go out and serve this country," Cathy Stone says. "It's just wonderful."

The 186th is made up of four groups with about 1,200 members.