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Welcoming them home: a story of military homecomings.

I first started my business in North Carolina, we were stationed at Camp Lejeune. One of the most common requests I received was to capture when deployed Marines and Sailors came home. I love homecomings. It’s a lot of sitting around and waiting for them to arrive. I’d be standing chatting with my client when we’d hear a loud cheer. I’d stand on tiptoe to see the seven tons coming in. I’d turn to her and explain it wasn’t them; it was their gear. It was still a heart fluttering moment to see their stuff for the first time in over seven months. You know they are nearby, probably turning in their rifles and getting ready to come see you! I’ve seen the next part happen a variety of ways. Big, white buses roll up and start unloading Marines and Sailors in front of our eyes. Wives, girlfriends, kids, running up for their hugs. Big buses pull up and they unload them into formation on the other side of the buses. The buses pull away, the Marines are released to reunite with their families. A cheer as we see a formation marching toward us in the distance. Shouts of joy as the Marines sneak into the crowd from behind. Released in platoons that come walking in from the front as itty bitty groups. Once, a minivan pulled up and one Marine came out to hug his very pregnant wife. Yet every homecoming was the same. A long wait filled with anticipation. A family reunited. Hugs. Kisses. Tears of joy. Excitement. Relief. One of the homecomings I photographed was 24 hours to the minute after my own husband had deployed. I still remember the look of shock on Betsy’s face when I told her that. She thought I should be a mess. I get so wrapped up in the joy of homecomings that it makes all the not so pleasant stuff in my own life fade away. At the end of the day, military homecomings will always have a special place in my heart. They are completely unpredictable, always seem to end up happening at the worst possible time for lighting (dead of night or noon), take forever. But the look on his face when he meets his baby for the first time, not recognizing his wife after a huge weight loss, hugging his family for the first time in months, that is what makes it all worth the craziness.

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13 thoughts on “Welcoming them home: a story of military homecomings.”

  1. I am also a military wife. Thank you so much for giving these families just priceless memories! I know when my soldier had his homecoming, it was so important for me to have someone there to capture these priceless moments!

  2. My dad was a career Navy pilot, so I know homecomings well. Military personnel give up so much to keep my family–who they do not even know!–free. I wish I lived closer to a base so I could offer homecoming sessions. You have captured so many great emotions in these images!

  3. I’ve never photographed a homecoming before but I have the feeling that if I did I wouldn’t be able to hold back tears. What a special and emotional time for these families, and how special for your clients that you are there to document all that love.

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