Homecomings are so dear to my heart, I know I have said that before, but being in the military has changed me in many ways, and I truly understand how it feels to be one the waiting end of a deployment. You think you can do it, for the first two weeks it isn't so bad, and then it gets old, very quickly. You start counting down the days, trying to forget that you're now doing everything alone, from cooking and eating dinner, to watching your pets or children and simple things can become a big deal, because it isn't easy to take on what has been the job of two.
The Dana family had to deal with some delays, two weeks actually, and that is all on top of the whole six months that had already passed. We were both on standby as to when they would actually arrive and it finally happened! Will is a pilot so this one was a bit different than all the other homecomings, although that's something else I love about them! Everyone was gathered up at the squadron building, there was food, drinks and a lot of love and support shown through signs big and small, you could definitely feel a huge sense of community, like they were all one big family, and it was heartwarming to see!
After so much wait, they ended up getting delayed for another 30 minutes, and guys, when you've been waiting this long, every minute feels like A LOT! I could tell that everyone just wanted to see their spouses, friends, sons and daughters and hug them! But the wait paid off, the anticipation built even more when we could see them fly right by us, Lucas was jumping in excitement to see his dada! Then down come the planes, almost in a parade-like stroll, I love how everyone was able to be so close to them and wave, show off their cute welcome signs and run over to the hangars!
FINALLY, after waiting even more for all the protocols that had to be done after landing and taxiing, Will came down his plane and how sweet is that bouquet? <3 Lucas couldn't wait any long and he had to run over to hug him!!! Amanda and little Ethan joined them shortly and HOW SWEET are those family pictures? If you have been through a deployment, you know it's almost impossible to not have a smile on your face, because that moment is SO PRICELESS! I could definitely see their faces light up with smiles while they wanted for their hugs!
And that sense of community? It was very strong, it seemed like everyone else was there to hug and welcome them home too, like one very big and loving family! It was so sweet to see and I am honored to be a part of such a unique moment in their lives. This is also bittersweet for me because this might be my very last homecoming session, at least in Valdosta, but I don't think I will be too close to any bases up in Maryland.
Amanda and Will, I hope you enjoy and cherish these, every family I photograph becomes part of my story too and I truly wish you guys the best!!!