justin's homecoming...

Due to the security of the troops, the Army waited until 48 hours before his plane landed to let us know when he would arrive.  The bad part about that is it really doesn't give you much time for planning ahead; hotel reservations, travel arrangement, etc.

I was going to leave on Sunday, then Monday and it ended up that I left at 7am on Tuesday because the Army had finally called to tell us that he would be in Wednesday at 1:15pm.  Jerome would drive down on Thursday.

I drove straight through, with a 20 minute stop at the toll road service center for a nap.  I had been doing "the nod" and I didn't want to fall asleep while driving.  I arrived just on time to meet up with the Risse's in the parking lot.  They had just finished dinner; it was around 8:45pm.  I looked like $h!t...probably smelled too.

Jerome had reserved a room for us at a discounted rate using Hotels.com, since I was going to be there from Tuesday night through Saturday, it was nice to receive the discount. Sam had tried to jew-down the hotel manager and was able to get a pretty good rate, but Jerome's deal on Hotels.com was a much sweeter deal - too bad they didn't trust us to make the reservation for them.  Sam did want us to try to negotiate the same deal with the hotel manager that we got, but you had to do it on-line and use coupon code BEMERRY10 for an additional 10% off.  Even that the hotel manager was taking issue with.  He tried to argue a little that he, as a hotel manager, had to sign up with Hotels.com for that promotion, and he hadn't...but gave us the rate anyway.

Wednesday, I had a few hours of relaxation before we all headed to Pope AFB; Green Ramp to wait for Justin's brigade to arrive.  I figured that I could ride with Justin's dad (my ex-husband) since he has a military sticker on his car while the Risse's (including my grand-baby Peyton) drove in another car.  Peyton has a military ID card, so we thought it would work.  It didn't.  They had to turn around and have their vehicle searched before they were allowed to enter the base.
Once at Green Ramp, we entered into the hanger.  There were many family members already milling about and the Army band was playing Christmas music off to one side.  They had sandwiches and a cake ready for when they arrived.  The Green Ramp hanger is where the Airborne paratroopers come to wait before they get into the plane to do their jumps, so all the benches have a little step in the back, right behind where your butt would rest.  Justin told me that is to support the weight of the parachute since you could be waiting there for several hours before you do your jump.
 We waited for some time outside in the cold...however not as cold as Michigan.  We watched the plane land and waited for the troops to file out of the plane, which took an excruciatingly LONG time.  Finally, they were marching into the hanger and then had to wait again in formation while they sang the Army song and some Commander made a small speech.  I mean - REALLY!?  Is that necessary?  These guys and gals have been gone from their loved ones for nearly a year (they left Christmas Eve 2009) and here they are, torturing them with their family members at arms-length.  Disgraceful!
Finally they could drop their rucksacks and come plow down their mothers (yes, I was nearly plowed down by my own son running to see his new baby and fiance - what a welcome!).  He apologized later.
He was interviewed by the local newspaper about being a new father and seeing his baby for the first time.

It was a nice reunion.
Went out to eat several times in the next few days.  Justin signed his first lease while we were there, on his own merits.  And we visited the house where he will be spending this week until he flies home to Michigan on Saturday.  Got to meet his roommates - characters; all of them.  They do have a house "mother" of sorts - the only girl that lives with all these guys.  Her name is Peyone.  She is very nice and will be out of the Army by February.  She's going to school to be a social worker.  She's got some training with these boys.

Jerome and I drove back all in one day.  We were trying to avoid the upcoming bad weather.  We left around 1:45pm Saturday and arrived home by 2:30am, and I guess the snow started at around 3am.  We totally missed it.

Sam and her parents were not as lucky.  They drove out the next morning and right into bad snowy, icy, windy weather in the mountains.  They spun around at one point and were facing an oncoming semi-truck.  I had told Justin that they should leave when we did, but it's pretty typical that when I say something, there is a nod of acknowledgment but nothing happens.  Well anyway, they arrived safe and sound, so I guess it worked out for them.


Jabbles said…
Glad Justin is home safe.
I agree it is pretty ridiculous to have speeches after landing, couldn't they have done that on what I can only assume was a long ass plane ride?

How much longer does Justin have to stay in the army?
baby sister said…
Yeah, he was in a plane for 30 hours. They made several stops. Manas, Georgia, Romania (I think), Iceland, New Hampshire and then Pope AFB. I'm not sure the correct order.

He has about a year and a half and doesn't expect to have to do another tour of duty.

Coming to Wheels to Meals tomorrow night?
Jabbles said…
That's good.
Nope I would like to but but I am on call this week. Have fun though.
Oh! You must be so happy to have him home in time for the holidays!

And make sure to thank him (from me & my family) for his service!
baby sister said…
I am very excited about this holiday season - most everyone will be in attendance. He will see his long lost cousins that lived in Europe for most of their childhood, but are now living in the US. My sisters are coming to stay with us from the east coast (NYC, NJ and Boston) and my dear grand-baby will be staying at our house a night or two :D Lots to look forward to.
dynochick (Jan) said…
So glad he is home safe and keeping my fingers crossed he doesn't have to return. I just so wish no one else had to go over there.

Why would the military plan a speech, song, etc? Sounds like it was planned by someone who hadn't been away from his family for a year.

Hey, don't feel bad about them not listening about the weather. I am constantly telling my son that it will rain out his race but they just laugh at me. Oh well.

Unfortunately, babies and fiances trump mothers, but usually mothers trump fathers. LOL

How long did it take that precious baby to bond with her father? She is just sooooo dang cute.
baby sister said…
My son & baby hit it off immediately. It warms my heart at how much he kisses and holds her.

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