Armucation: Homecoming Ceremonies

I was one of those people who thought that as soon as the soldier got off whatever vehicle transport they came in on, they would be free to go home.

This is a huge misconception. There is a lot more that goes into a homecoming than the banners and hugs.

These are just my observations of the Army and how Ft. Campbell does homecoming. Every branch and post may do their own variation of things.

Bangor, Maine is the first stop in the US for many of our troops. There are a band of greeters who meet the soldiers as they touch US soil for the first time in months. These greeters come to the airport at all hours of the night to welcome home our troops. Tom said this was one of the greatest parts of coming home. It is very touching to watch videos from here.

Bangor Homecoming Greeters

They can come at all hours of the day. I joked that going to a homecoming ceremony during the day is a myth. I have only been to them in the dead of night. The schedules are also unpredictable. When Tom came home, I feel like they changed the time they were supposed to arrive about every hour that week that they were scheduled home. So there is a lot of waiting.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Once the troops get home they have to line up for a short ceremony.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

From here, they are released for about 20 minutes to meet with their family.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

These are the moments that are inspiring and the ones to live for.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

After this very little time with family and friends, the soldiers line back up to go back to their company areas. The families go to a waiting room or classroom in the company area to wait for an hour or more. During this time you are not allowed to see your soldier. The soldiers are turning in all of their sensitive items, getting housing assignments, and other various administrative tasks. For me this was the longest couple of hours because I knew Tom was right outside but I couldn’t see him.

After they are finally released after what seems like days, then kind of everything is up for grabs.

The soldiers are not allowed to drive for 24 hours that first day, and many of them don’t have cars anyway because they sold them before the deployment. So they have to make plans for that.

The units will have a reintegration class they have to attend every day for the next week. It is a way for them to have some stability and routine when their whole world just changed.

Then there are the personal things that you have to get use to again which can take time depending on the soldier and family they are coming home to.

So there is much more than what you see on TV for homecomings, and it ends up being a long process of reintegrating back into the country. It is a very interesting and wonderful experience, but it was frustrating at first that I couldn’t just keep my soldier to myself.

I would encourage people to go to a homecoming ceremony once in their lifetime. It is very awesome to witness!

Have you been to a homecoming ceremony for any branch? What things did you notice from the experience that I did not mention here?

As a side note, Tom and I are being featured on “Date Night Is”  for our date nights. Pretty sweet!

Kicking it On Top of the World

Nothing is going to bring you down when you are about to see your love after 6 months of the unknown.

Not even pulling an all-nighter. For those who know me, they are well aware that I am not a happy camper without my sleep. I become a much angrier version of myself. I have nightmares of what my last all-nighter looked like my freshmen year of college with Amy as we studied for our American Government final-wretched.

Tom was scheduled to come in at 7pm originally, which with that I figured we would have an all-nighter anyway with not having seen each other in 6 months. But that was on my terms. The first lesson you learn in the military is that plans always change at the last minute. Days before his trip, they pushed back the flight arrival to 1:30am. Oh goodness.

And of course you have to be there several hours before they actually land, so I drove up to the parade field at 10:30pm and boarded what looked like a prison bus with several other wide-eyed families so they can take you to the hanger outside of the airfield.

Then you just sit on these hard cold bleachers in a hanger for a couple hours as a soldier counts down every 10 minutes. I played several rounds of bejeweled and tried to read a book, but my nerves were on high alert and I ended up looking at the time every few seconds. You would think the last 2 hours would be easy compared to going through 6 months of waiting.

Wrong, they were the worst 2 hours of the whole deployment.

And of course it is probably the one time of the year that it decided to be snowing and gross in KY. So when they had us file outside to wait for the plane for a half hour, I am pretty sure I lost feeling of my toes and nose as we were waiting for the plane to land.

So here I was at 1 o’clock in the morning, wet, cold, anxious and cranky. Surrounded by other wet, cold, anxious, and cranky people. We were a sight.

But then we heard that humming noise. All of a sudden, there is a plane in front of our face.

It was pretty cool to see a plane land right in front of you, and even more special considering the cargo it held.

Then we waited for what seemed forever for them to actually get off the plane and watch them file past us. Ugh they all looked the same in the uniforms and through the snow and tears of joy. Where was my hubby?!?

And then I saw him!


There is my guy.

All the worry, all the anxiety, all the everything just melted away. I didn’t feel cold; I wasn’t tired; I was on top of the world. I have him back!

I was half tempted to jump the barricade and go tackle him right there, but my better judgement won over there.

Then we waited for a 5 minute ceremony to commence before we were able to actually talk with our soldiers for 20 minutes.

We had our wonderful legs-wrapped-around-the-waist-hug airport moment. Nothing can compare to this moment.

You are just in shock that you are touching each other and seeing each other in real life. It is a goosebump moment.


Then after these wonderful few minutes, they have an exhilarating process of turning in sensitive items. This took about 4 hours….

You are not able to see your soldier during this time until the whole unit is done turning in the necessary gear. So you sit in a room with all the family members waiting for them to be released. Every time the door open, the whole room turned in anticipation and then slumped back down as we realize it was not them.

My cranky pants came back on at this point. I had hit the wall.

They were finally released around 6 am. We were heading back to the house as the rest of the base was coming into work.

It is hard to explain the nerves and joy that washed over me during this whole process. You look over, and it is a like a surprise all over again that he is actually back. We both kept saying that this felt like a dream.

As the song says, “I don’t think it’s ever felt so good, or felt so right. You here with me tonight.”

It’s in those moments that everything you just went through is worth it. You are on top of the world. This song was my anthem that weekend. Every word of this song expresses how I feel to have him back stateside.

And you are just really proud of what he accomplished. He just went and did something that very few in our country will do. But at the same time, you are pretty grateful that it is over for the time being.

Some other fun stories from that night: There was a proposal, a separate proposal that led to their marriage in a parking lot that night, and a father seeing his few month old baby girl for the first time.

I don’t think I will ever take these moments and grand experiences for granted. Going through this makes you realize what is important and how precious moments can be. Just soak it in.

It makes moments like this priceless.

I loved seeing how Grace loves her dad! They have been inseparable since.

We are still doing the long distance for now until I move this summer, but it is unbelievable good to know that the worst of it is over. I can call him anytime I want, and see him every couple of weeks.

You have to live in the moment, and be on top of the world as much as you can. It is even better when you have someone to share it with.

This craft is another map project to commemorate our moves.

I had the place, the map, and the years we lived there.

It was something I made in Publisher and then printed off.


I like how clean it looks. And it really matches my last map project.


And it will be easy to replicate when we move again.

Thanks for hearing our story. It was a great night and I am ecstatic to have him back safe and sound.