Air National Guard unit's homecoming just in time for Mother's Day
Master Sgt. Jason Spriggs delivered the best Mother's Day gift his wife, Tina, could ever imagine.
"I don't even want anything else," said Tina Spriggs, of Owasso.
Jason Spriggs was one of about 50 airmen with the 219th Engineer Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard based in Tulsa who returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.
Dozens of family and friends of the airmen greeted them Saturday at the Tulsa International Airport with signs, balloons, hugs and tears.
The airmen left in September to complete their training before heading to Afghanistan in November, where they broke up into teams to complete electrical and communication projects across the country.
Tina Spriggs said they arrived at the airport about an hour before the airmen were even due to arrive. She stood, glancing at her phone and down the concourse in anticipation, with her two teenage children wearing matching red shirts with American flags on them.
This was the seventh time her husband has gone overseas, six times with the guard and once as a contractor. Each time is as difficult as the last, she said.
"It's extremely hard trying to be the mom and dad," she said. "Both became teenagers while he was gone. They both grew several inches.
"He's coming home to a whole new world."
Technology helps them keep in touch while he is deployed. But she said her family relies on their strength and their faith to keep going
"We have God in our lives," she said. "Without God, we would never make it."
When the airmen were walking down the concourse, the crowd stood and cheered, peering to find their loved one. Tina Spriggs ran to the front of the crowd and into her husband's arms when she saw him.
Jason Spriggs said being gone is difficult, but coming home is always great.
"This is wonderful," he said.
Their deployment was a productive one, he said. As troops begin to draw down in Afghanistan, the more remote forward operating bases need to be disassembled and other bases need to grow to accommodate the troops from those outposts.
The 219th EIC completed more than 124 electrical installation projects across the country. More than 154 miles of communications cable were laid by the teams, 86,000 feet of conduit installed and 13,400 communication terminations made to enhance the capabilities of the military there.
"We were busy," Jason Spriggs said. "We got a lot done, made a difference."
Nina Fioretti said her son, Staff Sgt. Tristan Fioretti, is coming back from his first deployment and her first deployment as a mother.
Nina Fioretti, of Stigler, said she also was able to frequently keep in touch with her son and knew he was in a relatively safe location, but a mother worries.
"It's been emotional the whole eight months," she said. "It doesn't matter how old they get. They're still your baby."
Several members of his family were at the airport to see Tristan Fioretti come home. Nina Fioretti said she couldn't wait to head to Tulsa to greet her son, sleeping only a few hours and waking up early in anticipation.
Now that her son is back home, the family plans to spend time together to catch up. She said that she couldn't think of a better way to spend her Mother's Day.
"To heck with Mother's Day," Nina Fioretti said with a wide smile. "This is the best Mother's Day present I've ever gotten."
Broken Arrow unit to return
Members of the 120th Engineer Battalion, based in Broken Arrow, who have been deployed to Afghanistan since September are also due to return to the state this week. Details of the homecoming have not been announced.