ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Some middle georgia kids got to stay up extra late Sunday night to welcome home moms and dads returning from deployment. Around 2 am Monday, the 116th Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base welcomed around 50 Guardsmen from a 3 month deployment to Southwest Asia.
For Rebecca Laird, this is not her first rodeo. She's been through deployment 8 times.
"I'm used to it," she says, laughing. This time, however, she and her kids waited anxiously to see their dad get off the plane from Southwest Asia--because Rebecca had an important announcement.
"The sex of the baby..." says Rebecca with a smile, pointing to her shirt that has two pink footprints, and the words 'It's a Girl' on it. She found out two weeks ago that she was having another girl, but keeping that a secret was no small feat.
"I've been successful, which is surprising," she says. Apparently, it's very hard for her to keep a secret.
Her son, Junior has a whole other reason to be excited his dad's coming home. "I'm gonna go fishing!," he says excitedly, holding a 'Welcome Home Daddy' sign upside-down in his hand.
As the plane rolled up to the hangar at Robins Air Force base, families of all sizes and ages greeted their returning heroes with a cheer. Rebecca and her kids couldn't see their dad, Sgt. Jason Laird, get off the plane. In the darkness, Rebecca thought she saw him...and when Nyla and Junior realized it, they ran to their father and gave him a big hug.
For Sgt. Laird, 75 days away from his family is just part of the job...and he's OK with that.
"We're over there to take care of business, and we're doing that and when we come home we have all the support from the neighbors and community," Sgt. Laird told 41NBC. He's part of the Joint STARS team. They fly and maintain the surveillance aircraft.
After 24 hours on a plane, it's nice to be greeted by familiar loving faces...and a big surprise!
"She didn't think that she could hold it from me, and I was hoping that she would slip up and tell me, but she didn't," says Sgt. Laird.
For Rebecca and her kids, it's moments like this that make deployment a little easier; and after spending months away from the little ones, for Sgt. Laird, going fishing sounds pretty good.
*This deployment, the Joint STARS team reached a milestone: they have has flown more than 80,000 combat hours since 2003.