JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, WASH.,- Despite all of the ceremony and commotion associated with a redeployment, the return home meant only one thing for Spc. Debora Escalona, a nuclear biological and chemical specialist assigned to 125th Forward Support Company -- being able to give her husband a big hug and kiss.

Escalona was one of about 260 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment who returned to Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash., in June, after deployments to Jordan and Kuwait, where they worked to bolster regional partnerships.

The Orlando, Fla., native said her husband Derek Escalona was her main motivation during her year in Kuwait.

The couple e-mailed and Skyped as much as they could to keep the lines of communication open, in order to make the time apart a little easier.

Upon landing in Washington, Debora received her initial greeting by something many of those living in the Western part of the state take for granted, the cool, wet climate.

"It's nice to be back," said Debora. "Seeing the rain and no sand has been the biggest change so far. It's different not having sand blowing in your face and eyes."

Although safely home, it would still be a few more hours before she could see her husband. Once all the troops had deplaned, the business of paperwork, accountability of personnel and weapons had to be complete.

While the necessary administrative processes were taking place at the airfield, just a few miles away emotions were high as Debora's husband stood by watching his wife's arrival through live camera feed on a projector set up at Wilson Gym.

"I'm very anxious to see [my wife]," said Derek. "It's been a long time and I'm really anxious and excited."

Derek said the couple had an opportunity to see each other briefly when Debora took leave during the deployment. Although the time was short, they tried to make the most of it and continued their routine of staying in contact using the internet once she returned to Kuwait.
One of the lessons Derek said he learned through this deployment is how much Soldiers appreciate the support from family and friends, especially those Soldiers who have multiple deployments.

"It's important to be supportive and keep in contact," said Derek. "They're counting on you to be there for them."

Once the in-processing and briefings were complete, the Soldiers of 1-94 were transported to the Gym where they were greeted by welcome home signs and cheering family members.
Knowing that the arriving Soldiers were anxious to get back to their stateside lives, the ceremonial redeployment speeches were kept at a minimum so the servicemembers could quickly reunite with their loved ones.

Once the battalion commander announced that the Soldiers were dismissed, Debora was finally able to make her way through a sea of people to give her husband the long embrace she'd been waiting for.