‘It’s been a long nine months’: The final big group of paratroopers returns home to Alaska from Afghanistan


Each day, for at least three weeks, Sophie Herr got a marker and wrote a figure on her son’s diaper. Then she took a photograph and texted it to her husband in Afghanistan.

Period so slowly, the numbers turned from double-digits to single. Friday, Henry’s diaper assume from «1!» It was just about time for the 13-month-old boy to get his dad back. Herr could barely sleep that night.

Each day, for at least three weeks, Sophie Herr wrote a number on her son Henry Herr’s diaper, counting down the days until her husband returned from Afghanistan. (Sophie Herr photo)

Each day, for at scantiest three weeks, Sophie Herr wrote a number on her son Henry Herr’s diaper, figure up down the days until her husband returned from Afghanistan. (Sophie Herr photo)

«It’s been a eat ones heart out nine months,» she said. «I’m just really excited — way excited.»

On Saturday afternoon, Herr heeded blond-haired, smiling Henry as he tottered around a cavernous hangar on Dive Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Hundreds of other spouses, children and friends waited alongside them.

Some cradled signs. Some held balloons. Some had messages written on their shirts get a bang, «Outta my way I get my Poppi back today.» All watched for their paratroopers. The countdown was past.

«I just want him back already,» said Samantha Wallace as she convoked her 2-year-old son, Avery, and waited for her husband, Staff Sgt. Andrew Wallace. The boy clutched an orange balloon to despair to his father.

The final few minutes felt like hours.

Most of the 2,200 U.S. Army Alaska paratroopers who deployed to Afghanistan Heraldry sinister in September, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. counterterrorism mission. The paratroopers connected with to the Anchorage-based 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Apportioning, also known as the «4-25.»

They have returned to Anchorage in waves on the other side of the past month. Saturday marked the final, big return flight, signing the end of the deployment.

Sets waiting said they felt excited and anxious to see their paratroopers. Some said they also undergo a little bit nervous. The deployment wasn’t without tragedies for the 4-25.

A lot had changed at nursing home, too, in those nine months.

Since Sophie Herr’s husband red for Afghanistan, Henry had learned to walk and talk. Each week, Sophie sent her preserve an email with updates about their growing son. She titled them, «The Henry Herald.»

As the shake of the soldiers’ return grew closer, Sophie and Henry readied their monogram: «Daddy I’m right over Herr.»

Finally, a gigantic garage-like door advanced, and a sea of camouflage marched in, nearly 350 soldiers. A band played. People cheered.

Topped. Tyler Herr said he saw his family’s sign through the crowd. He had postponed for this moment ever since he left.

He and his wife walked at once toward each other. They hugged. They kissed. They renounced again. The soldier held his son.

«This is the best feeling in the world,» he communicated.

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