Back in May, Danielle Hampsmire and her daughters said goodbye to Staff Sgt. Christopher Hampsmire through their tears. On Friday, more tears. But this time, ones of joy. (WRDW-TV / Dec. 9, 2011)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Dec. 9, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 63rd Expeditionary Battalion has been in Afghanistan since May and got to come home a little earlier than planned. News 12 was there when they deployed and joined the families again for this homecoming celebration.
These men and women are the same soldiers who were sent overseas the morning after Osama bin Laden was killed. Back then, their families were scared about sending them into potentially hostile territory. Now, they are all safely home for the holidays.
It was a homecoming fit for heroes as parents, spouses and children anxiously waited for their troops to come marching in. Nine months ago, the same families waited in the same gymnasium, but it was a much different atmosphere.
Back in May, Danielle Hampsmire and her daughters said goodbye to Staff Sgt. Christopher Hampsmire through their tears. On Friday, more tears. But this time, ones of joy. The three waited patiently through the ceremony, hoping to spot their Dad in the crowd.
Finally, the reunion they've all been waiting for.
"Hey, Sgt. Hampsmire!" Danielle screamed.
She jumped into his arms. Danielle can't hold back, crying through their kisses.
"I'm glad you could make it," Christopher joked.
"I wouldn't miss it," she laughed.
Now, it's 4-year-old Madison's turn. Christopher scoops her up and kisses her cheek. Then 10-year-old Meghan is all smiles in her Daddy's arms.
"They look the same! Just a little more grown up," Christopher said.
Danielle took a deep breath.
"He's home. I can't ask for anything more than that," she said. "He's home, he's in one piece. And in time for Christmas."
"This was our last stop," Christopher explained. "It took us a while to get here, but we're finally here. It's just awesome to be back."
Theirs is just one of a hundred stories in the room. It's a feeling none of these families can describe in words, but hugs and kisses say it all.
"This is one of my favorite holidays. I just glad I get to spend it with my girls," Christopher said.
The Hampsmires say their first plans as a reunited family will be picking out a Christmas tree. Madison and Meghan were very anxious to get that done with Dad as soon as possible.