Serving his country the past ten months in Afghanistan, Paul Stansbury, having missed the birth of his son, Hunter, counted down the days until he could see him again. That emotional homecoming finally came when he arrived at O’Hare airport among about 130 fellow soldiers.
“I was ecstatic I get to see my five-month old son and my girlfriend, and my parents and my niece,” Stansbury. “It’s overwhelming to see everybody who has just been a big part of my life my whole time over there.”
Members of the 933rd Military Police Company, based at Fort Sheridan just North of Highland Park, were greeted by family and loved ones as they arrived on the tarmac.
The company worked with special forces troops in Afghanistan, much of their mission was classified, but that didn’t stop the out pour of emotions.
“Emotions all ran through me,” Sergeant Corey Johnson said. “I couldn’t even control myself. It was a challenge.”
For others, their catharsis took form in more extravagant ways.
“Just a big scream,” SPC Brandon Walton said. “Glad to see my wife, I mean it’s been a long time.”
Brigadier General Richard Hayes greeted the soldiers as they arrived and said the long-awaited return home brings a special kind of happiness.
“I’ve actually stood where they are and the emotion and the build-up, the plane, it’s a sense of pride and joy that’s hard to describe once you go through it,” Hayes said.”
Among the company, six soldiers earned bronze stars, 76 earned army commendation medals and 19 received combat action badges. The troops are expected to be home for three years.