At cold Yokota, a warm welcome home
January 19, 2007
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Holding signs, balloons, flowers and cameras, family and friends stood in Yokota’s passenger terminal early Wednesday morning, awaiting the arrival of the first group of airmen returning from deployment to southwest Asia.
The airmen left Yokota in early September as part of Air Expeditionary Force 3-4, serving for approximately 120 days in various parts of the Central Command area of responsibility.
For several hours, families waited patiently for news that the plane carrying their loved ones had landed. The announcement, when it came, sent a buzz of excitement through the crowd.
As base leaders, including 374th Airlift Wing vice commander Col. Paul Montgomery, went out to meet the plane and greet the returning troops, the families gathered near the gate where the airmen would be arriving.
With the Air Force song playing in the background, the weary warriors started to trickle through the gate as the waiting crowd applauded their return.
As more servicemembers came through the gate, two of the crowd’s more eager members, Madalyn and Azriel Royse, daughters of Senior Airman Rob Royse, ran forward, asking anyone wearing a desert-combat uniform, “Have you seen my dad?” and “Is my dad on the plane?”
Soon, their concerns were relieved as their father walked through the gate and into their waiting arms.
Kisses, hugs, even a few tears were shared as everyone eventually was reunited with friends and family before heading into the cold January morning.