LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Just in time for Veterans Day, families across Arkansas are welcoming home their loved ones.
Friday, 200 Arkansas National Guard soldiers arrived back in the Natural State.
They have been deployed to the Horn of Africa for the last nine months. Some soldiers are meeting their own babies for the first time.
It was anticipation months in the making. For Sgt. Christopher Stacker’s family, the waiting is almost too hard to bear.
His mom Carla Brown stands next to his fiancee, his son and his stepdaughter. But, the biggest surprise comes in the smallest package.
“He is going to meet his daughter Maleah for the first time,” Carla explains.
The plane wheels come down and the soldiers line up. As the hanger doors open, loved ones face each other for the first time in nine months.
Carla says there is no better time than now to see her son again.
“It’s veterans day so what a wonderful day to welcome our soldiers home,” Carla said.
As they are released, families reunite. Sgt. Stacker holds his daughter for the very first time.
“It means everything. It was great,” Sgt. Stacker said. “It was kind of hard seeing her every day on FaceTime, but now that it’s finally here I’m glad. Everything is worth it.”
Even across the world in Africa, Sgt. Stacker says it was his family in Arkansas that kept him going.
“It means a lot to have a family back home and care for you the way that they do. It makes me feel good about doing what I’m doing,” Sgt. Stacker said.
Sgt. Stacker left as an Arkansas National Guard soldier, and more than 300 days later, he returned home to serve in his most important duty, dad.