Military families are the epitome of service before self. I see it time and time again. Families separated while one spouse or the other is deployed. It is hard for our soldiers who are away from home and it is hard on the families who are home waiting for their loved one’s return. It’s not every day we have the opportunity to photograph a military homecoming. I received an e-mail a few nights ago from Shakeitha, a military wife and mother whose husband had been deployed for about 6 months. Shakeitha shared with me briefly that her husband was set to arrive, but they were unsure of his arrival date. She really wanted to capture the moment of his arrival and the reaction on her daughters face, as she saw her daddy for the first time in six months. I arrived at the San Antonio Airport in a rush to find Shakeitha and baby waiting for their soldier to arrive. Shakeitha definitely had her hands full as we raced across the airport with a toddler chasing the yellow stripes on the ground and taking snack breaks as we walked past the luggage claim, and it became clear to me, this wasn’t about the amount of time that had passed, but about memories of a little girl growing, who dad may have only seen on pictures or briefly when able to communicate.
We found a good spot front and center to the escalator he would descend. Mom and baby set up their sign and daddy bear was in hand at all times. We sat and we waited.
While waiting, Shakeitha told me that she wasn’t sure if her daughter had understood how long her daddy was gone or if she was maybe too little to understand. This was not the case. Soldier boots came down the escalator and before we could see his face we knew it was their soldier. Shakeitha’s little one immediately started hopping and pointing and shouting “Dada! Dada!” With tears running down my face I began capturing the military homecoming they had all been waiting for. I hugged Shakeitha and her husband and said “Thank you”. Not just for allowing me to share in their memories, but a thank you for protecting my freedom and sacrificing for us all. Truly a moment I will never forget. It is moments like this that make me feel so blessed to be a photographer and live in a country with strangers who fight for me. Thank you to all our military and their families for your sacrifice. I hope you all enjoy these photos as much as I do.