(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) This week, dozens of airmen from the 139th Airlift Wing returned home from a 5 month deployment in the middle east.
"It’s about the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had," Colton Vollan, returning airman, said.
Each one of the returning airmen's families eagerly awaited their arrival, perhaps more so this year.
"It was really awesome that we were able to come on base and see them return." Heather Dudzenski, family member said.
While Covid-19 hasn’t stopped these reunions from happening altogether, it has brought changes.
In addition to mask usage, hugs were a little tighter and kisses were a little longer. Families said with so many losing loved ones during this pandemic, being together again comes with a new level of gratitude.
"I’m a nurse, I work with Covid patients and I’m seeing a lot of people lose their loved ones," Becky Hutchison, a family member said. "To know that we’re all healthy and safe and he came back to us healthy and safe, we could not be more thankful for that."
With social gatherings discouraged, airmen and their families are planning to stay together throughout the holiday season.
Between 100-150 airmen returned to the military base this week.