By Staff Sgt. Antwaun ParrishOctober 30, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - As several ranks of tan boots reflected against the glossy gym floor, family members who had been waiting for months to see their soldiers began to scream; they knew they could soon embrace them. Once the blue partisan curtain was raised, revealing the soldiers dressed in multi-camouflage uniforms, the waiting families began to make even more noise and wave colorful signs adorned with heartfelt greetings.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster ride because the dates of him returning kept changing," said Cheri Robitaille. "I never want to miss a homecoming; it's exhilarating to see him come in. I just can't wait to give my son a hug."
More than 100 Arrowhead soldiers assigned to 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Their families and other members of their unit welcomed the soldiers, Oct. 26, at Wilson Fitness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
A mom awaits her son
For Cheri Robitaille this was her third time welcoming her son home from a deployment. Staff Sgt. Brian Robitaille, assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, smiled brightly as he embraced his mom once he was released from his formation.
"It feels excellent being home," Robitaille said. "We've been around our brothers and sisters in arms for the entire deployment, but it feels good to see family again."
Cheri has two sons in the Army. She began to smile as she remembered a picture her son sent her when he first arrived to Afghanistan. The picture was of one son arriving and greeting the other one who was leaving to return to the states. She explained that she has the same concerns that most moms have when their children leave for combat.
"When they leave I always worry," said Cheri, who traveled to JBLM from San Diego. "I've done this a few times, but it still helps to have support groups with other parents and spouses."
Robitaille was promoted while deployed and is now qualified to live off post. His mom is excited to help him with the move and happy to spend some quality time with him.
"He's going to get settled in his apartment and we have to get him a car," said Cheri. "Later were going to eat whatever he has been craving while he was gone."
Robitaille made a list of things he needs to accomplish, but there's one thing that he can't wait to do that tops everything else.
"I can't wait to get into civilian clothes," Robitaille said.
A spouse and baby await their soldier
Sarah O'hern placed a bold yellow sign adorned with colorful flowers in front of her baby's stroller that read, "My daddy had to go and fight but now he's back to hold me tight."
Spc. Corey O'hern has been married for two years and his daughter was two months old when he left. Now, seven months later, he's back to spend time with her and his wife.
Sarah admits that life without her husband was hard to deal with at times, but she did her best to stay occupied.
"I moved back to Huntsville, Ala.," Sarah said. "I worked out, took care of our daughter and traveled to visit family. We kept in touch through Skype and Facebook. It's been a rough road but we made it through."
Sarah explained that along with not being able to talk to her husband some days she had a tough time with their daughter while she was teething, and feels that it was one of the hardest things to deal with alone.
"When they were on blackout, I would think the worst and my heart would drop," Sarah said. "I would have to remember to calm myself down. Also, in the last three months, my daughter has had five teeth come in. Dealing with that alone is enough to break you."
Anxiously waiting to be reunited, Sarah worried that it would be awkward seeing him and wondered if he would like the new adjustments the family had made.
"I just wonder if he's going to be the same person," Sarah said. "I've moved into a new house and decorated it the way I like, so I'm just wondering if he will."
Once he was dismissed from formation their family was made whole again, well almost.
"I am excited to see my other child, our dog Stryker," O'hern said.
A spouse awaits her husband, shortly after their one-year anniversary
For Kylie Paquin, adjusting to Army life and a deployment was tough. Her husband, Spc. Jessie Paquin, has been in the Army for five years and returned from his second deployment.
"The separation alone was hard to get through," Paquin said. "I'm not used to being alone all the time."
Although she's anxious to see her husband, she feels bad for other spouses who have no one coming home to them.
"I'm excited and sad," Kylie said. "I know some of the people he went with aren't coming back, and some of them were his friends."
Kylie communicated through Skype with her husband and talked on the phone with him as often as possible. Even though she spoke with him frequently, she admits she was always on edge.
"I will stay calmer next time," Kylie said. "It's just tough when they don't call."
Kylie and her husband plan to have dinner at the Space Needle in Seattle for their one-year anniversary, which was a week and a half ago. Now finally the wait was over.
When the formation was dismissed Kylie scrambled through the flock of other families, finally recognizing her husband who grabbed her and gave her a long overdue kiss.