A Heart-Warming Homecoming as Troops Arrive from Iraq
It started out like any other day in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3 on Aug. 7 with travelers heading to their gates and people sitting in the chairs in the concourse waiting for family or friends’ flights to get in. But mid-morning, visitors to the terminal could see groups of people gathered. There was a young boy holding up a small yellow sign that said “Welcome Home Dad,” another boy carrying a larger sign that read “Welcome Home Uncle,” and later several family members holding a banner saying “Welcome Home Cody.” These individuals as well as local news media were on-site Friday to welcome home troops from the Army 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion who had been serving in Iraq.
Tracy Heck of Queen Creek stood in the terminal anxiously awaiting her husband John’s arrival. She said her heart was pounding as she waited for him to get off his flight. “I’m so grateful to be here (and to get to see him),” Heck said.
And, as the first group walked into the concourse, families waved, some clapped, and some were overcome with tears of joy in their eyes. Onlookers were also interested in what was going on and some even pulled out their cameras to take pictures of the occasion. For families and friends though, this was a joyous occasion to welcome home their loved ones and to be proud of the service these troops are providing to their country.
Clareen Breinholt brought her grandson with her to meet her nephew, Trevor Gomez. Other members of Gomez’s family were also present to welcome him home. Breinholt explained that her fifth grade class at Hawthorne Elementary in Mesa had been writing to Gomez during his time in Iraq and sending him care packages. In fact, when Gomez was on a visit several months ago, he went to the school to speak about his experience and show pictures of where he stayed in Iraq with his area decorated with the items that had been sent to him. Several of the children were actually making a welcome home banner for Gomez’s garage door.
Breinholt expressed how exciting his arrival home is mentioning that it is his son’s seventh birthday and he had an amazing family whose wife put herself through nursing school while he was away and had been raising two children including a young baby.
After heart-felt greetings from the family, Gomez expressed how happy he was to be home and how excited he was to take his family out to lunch to celebrate his son, Logan’s birthday. He said that Logan handled him being away very well and because of that he was getting his birthday wish, a Wii. Gomez also wanted to send his thanks. “It’s great having the support of citizens of the state and country,” Gomez said. “It resonates with us over there that people here remember us and appreciate the sacrifice we are making. And, I want to thank friends and family for all their support to my family while I was gone.”
Jonathan Lucas’ family and friends were on-site to welcome him back. There was clapping and laughter as they greeted him.
“It was a great year and unit,” Phoenix-native Lucas said. “I think we achieved our first mission which was bringing everyone home safe and uninjured.”
Lucas is planning to go back to Iraq, but in the meantime, he is planning to enjoy his time with his friends and family. His aunt Rita and sister Noel were full of smiles that their nephew and brother was back. “We’re happy he’s back from his second tour,” Rita said. “It’s nice that he’s home for however long we have him. We’re hoping we get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas together before he goes.”
Several other groups of Army Reserve troops arrived at PHX Sky Harbor on Friday afternoon and were welcomed home by friends and family and thanked by observers for their service to our country. To the right, see a video of the troops’ homecoming arrival from Iraq.