Lemoore Navy Officers Return Home

November 24, 2008 6:50:58 PM PST
Nearly 800 navy pilots and sailors are returning home to the central valley just in time for Thanksgiving. Today about 40 pilots came home after being away from their families for six months. For one couple the homecoming was life-changing.Dozens of wives, children and friends stood by holding homemade signs and waving American flags. They waited for any tiny glimpse of their beloved pilot coming home. "Look there's daddy!" As soon as they were given the go they raced out to be the first to give them a homecoming kiss and hug.

"There's just really no way to describe it. It starts as soon as you hit the California coast you just get excited that you're gonna see your family," said Lt. Bill Thames.

"It's just weird not seeing him come home every night," said Will Thames.

"It's hard but the reunions are just fantastic," said Susan Thames.

More than 40 pilots returned home to Lemoore Naval Air Station just in time for the holidays. For six months they traveled to Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and also the Philippines-- where they provided aid for typhoon victims.

"6+ months away from home- it's just a great experience to be back here holding them again," said Erik Etz.

Many already have their plans set for Thanksgiving.

"Just being together as a family and maybe a trip to Disneyland," said Olivia Etz.

"We knew getting home a couple days later would just be hard on everybody and we made it ... we're ready for some Thanksgiving dinner and just ready to be with families," said Cmdr. Scott Raupp.

One woman got the surprise of her life when her boyfriend proposed to her just minutes after landing.

"Well I had to dig around in my pocket ... I was trying to talk over four jets taking off at the same time," said Lt. Alexander Armatas.

"I was just excited for him to be home," said Sandy Latimer.

Tuesday more than 700 sailors are expected to fly in here.

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