Allie Martin

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Emotional Welcome Home For 288th Sapper Company

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Emotions were high as family and friends awaited the return of 288th Sapper Company.

How are you feeling now? “Very excited, slightly nervous but real excited,” said Felisha Hill, whose husband was on the way home.
“I’m as happy as a pig in slop right now, buddy, I’ll tell you that right now,” said Durick Hayden, who was waiting on his son Tim.
“I am so excited I can hardly stand it, I’m ready to have him back here safe and sound,” said Miriam Garner who was waiting on her husband to return.

The 288th left for Afghanistan on October 5th of last year.  This marked the unit’s 3rd deployment.  And although they kept in contact through Facebook and Skype, when the chartered 737 touched down a few minutes early, the crowd was ready.

It was a moment Sergeant Bobby Johnson had been looking especially forward to.  He was able to hold his adopted 2 week old baby boy for the first time.

“I can’t explain it, I’ve been wanting to see him for I don’t know how long,” Sgt. Johnson said.

Each family had its own reason to celebrate.

Who are you here to welcome home?  “Jacob Hill, Sgt. Jacob Hill.  Your son?  Yessir.  Today is a special day, he’s coming home and it’s also a special day for you?  Yessir, it’s my birthday,” said Jeannie Hill.

Members of the 288th say the celebratory homecoming is a welcome sight after spending a year playing  a pivotal role helping bring relief, hope and freedom to Afghanistan.

“It makes this year feel worthwhile , to know folks back home are behind us, it’s great to be home and have all the support we got,” said Sgt. Jesse Garner.

“We sacrifice a lot, spend a long time away from home and we got to keep at it, have a big job, have a lot of work to do,” said Sgt. Tim Hayden.

Now that the 288th is stateside, unit members are free to go home until their next Guard drill.  Family members tell us they hope this was the last deployment, but they know their loved ones will be ready to serve if called again.