Jacksonville, NC Military Homecoming | Ryan Family

Being in the military town of Jacksonville, NC; homecomings are one of the most anticipated events around. With my own deployment/homecoming occurring this year, they are starting to hit closer to home than ever before. I; like many photographers, get teary and emotional when we see the reunion of such love that has defied all odds and extended over time zones, battle lines, missed phone calls, countless emails, and half whole hearts. It’s one of the hardest times for any couple, so adding children to the mix, just makes things that much harder on both parents.

The first time I saw Jenn’s post about her husband’s homecoming was one of distress. She had lost her photographer only 48 hours prior to her husband’s homecoming. My heart sank when I saw it. Without any hesitation, I offered to do her session for her, with my compliments. I couldn’t imagine not having photos of a man meeting his new son for the first time, as he is coming home from defending our Country. This was a capture that needed to occur come hell or high water. So, at 6:30 in the morning when my son woke me up, I had a text from her with an sweet message saying that I didn’t need to go out of my way. I simply asked for an address and started to pack up my 2 year old assistant and head over to meet her. This was one homecoming I wasn’t going to miss for the world.

When I first met her, she had the air of every woman expecting their loved one home after many months apart. Anxious, Nervous, and so ready to be in their arms once again. In toe, was her very sweet Mother, adorable 3 year old son, and her newest man; their 6 month old baby. He was just shy a few weeks of meeting his dad when he deployed, so this was going to be the very first moment he got to meet his Daddy.

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So, on the cold January morning; we bundled up and headed out. Hands full of coffee and snacks for the little ones, we started our wait. Checking her phone every so often for updates, the time finally passed long enough and the buses were in sight. They were brought in by Vets on motorcycles. It was quite a spectacle. With flags waving from everyone, the Marines and Sailors emerged from the each bus. That’s when she found him.

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Immediately running to him, they locked in a very emotional embrace. The love and relief was apparent to anyone who might have been watching. Such joy; well… as you can plainly see. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your loved one for the first time after a long time apart. Your heart feels like it is about to jump right out of your chest. Almost like your heart grows 3 times bigger; just like what Mister Seuss tell us every Christmas.

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I am so blessed to have been able to be apart of this family becoming whole again. Now, to make the very best of 2016. Start fresh, whole and happy. Welcome home Marines. Thank you for everything.