Military brothers have surprise homecoming, send-off hours apart

Pendley family homecoming
The Pendley family welcomed one brother home and sent another brother off to basic training Tuesday. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 22, 2011)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- We originally headed out to the airport this morning to talk to people about holiday travel, and then we found the Pendley family.

Kimberly Pendley is at Augusta Regional Airport for two reasons.

"Oh, it's a real special day," Kimberly exclaimed.

Just days before Thanksgiving, and her older son, U.S. Army Reserve Private First Class Tim Pendley is heading out to Oklahoma for basic training.

His 3-year-old daughter, Abigail, clinches her Army teddy bear named "Daddy."

"Are you going to miss your daddy?" asked reporter Katie Beasley.

"Yeah," Abigail answered.

"How much are you going to miss your daddy?"

Abigail extended her arms.

"You're going to miss him that much?"

Then, Abigail nodded.

On the same day Tim is leaving, Kimberly's younger son, South Carolina National Guard Specialist James Pendley, is on the way home from Iraq.

"It's exciting to see him because I've been worried about him every day," Kimberly said.

With their flights just hours apart, the brothers weren't sure they'd even see one another.

"It's pretty nice to have him come home, even if it is for a few minutes, to see each other as we cross paths," Pfc. Tim Pendley said.

Then, his mom spots him.

"There he is," Kimberly whispered.

For a moment, she has both her sons in one room.

"It's very hard, too, one leaving, and then there's one coming in," she said.

"It's very nice to be able to have this kind of family moment," Tim said.

"It's been pretty long since I've been home and I'm excited to see everybody, especially my little boy. He just turned 3, so I'm anxious to see him," explained Specialist James Pendley.

He also can't wait to see his wife, Jennifer.

"She thinks that he's coming home in January, so this is totally unexpected," Kimberly said.

And we were happy to help with the surprise. We followed James to the Aiken Regional Medical Center.

Jennifer thinks she's taping a holiday greeting at work for James to see on Thanksgiving, when he surprised her.

"Hey James ... I love you very much. I miss you and I'm very proud of everything you've done for us," said Jennifer into the camera.

"When is he coming home?" Katie asked.

"Hopefully in May," Jennifer responded.

"OK ... well turn around," said Katie as she gave the cue for James to walk down the hall.

Jennifer was speechless.

"It's OK ... oh, I missed you!" James whispered to Jennifer.

And on this day of an emotional hello, an emotional goodbye is always right around the corner.

"So happy he's home," said Jennifer through tears.

"Home for a little bit," James said.

James will be home for a few weeks, then he's heading back out to Kuwait. Tim will be in Oklahoma for a few weeks, then he'll be back for Christmas.

Tim wanted to thank his recruiter for helping coordinate the flights just right.

We want to thank Aiken Regional for helping News 12 pull this off. Jennifer was actually off work today, but they called her in especially for the surprise.