By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 25, 2019
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- More than 200 families welcomed home their loved ones Thursday after a six-month deployment overseas.
The 75th Fighter Squadron of Moody Air Force Base landed in Valdosta Thursday night. The 240 men and women have been deployed in Southwest Asia for six months.
This was the first deployment for Analyst Robert Cooper and his wife Sharnea. They said the moment Robert stepped off the plane was indescribable.
"Right before that moment I witnessed a little girl meet her father for the first time, and I started tearing up," Sharnea said. "I was like, 'I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry,' then when I saw my husband I was like, 'oh nope, it's over with.'"
"It was surreal, she came up running to me crying, and it made me tear up also," Robert said. "Finally get to see my baby after six months.
Crowds of hundreds filled the base, welcoming home heroes with hugs and tears.
For some airmen, the six-month deployment was even harder. When Avionic Systems Craftsman Josh Johnston returned home, he met his son Brody for the first time.
When asked what was going through his mind at the moment, Johnston could hardly find the words.
"A thousand different things, I'm starting to cry again," Johnston said. "I don't even know how to explain it.
The airmen were out of sight for six months, but not one day spent out of mind.
"Just the day to day, if we can just get through this day, then tomorrow's another day. If we get through that day, you know, just taking it one day at a time," said wife Brittney Johnston.
Many of the airmen said Thursday they have a lot of time to make up for, but what they're most looking forward to now that they are home is just being with family.