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8th AS returns home to open arms

Airmen anxious for comforts of home

Capt. Daniel Hewes, a pilot with the 8th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field, reunites with his 13-month-old son, Logan, after returning home from a deployment Monday at the base. /Marques Hunter

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Some deployments are harder to deal with.

While deployed with the 62nd Airlift Wing's 8th Airlift Squadron to Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, Capt. Daniel Hewes missed a couple of key moments in his infant son's development.

Of his four deployments, he said, this one was the toughest.

"You can see how much has changed," Hewes said after being greeted by Logan, 13 months, and wife Meg with a huge hug Monday at McChord Field. "He wasn't walking before I left."

Hewes was unable to celebrate Logan's birthday in June and unable to watch him take his first steps.

But he quickly made up for his time away by lifting Logan up and gazing into his son's bright blue eyes. Logan then showed his dad his new walking skills as he danced around in a wobbly like manner.

Other spouses, significant others and friends also welcomed the 8th Airlift Squadron home. Meg and Logan designed a colorful, patriotic banner that read, "Get out of the way, my daddy is home."

Although the deployment was short, Meg said it was hard, and having a child this time around was the biggest difference.

"(Logan) missed his daddy," she said. "The evenings were the hardest."

While some of the 120 Airmen landed for another trip home, there were others, like Airman 1st Class Sydney Lyda, 20, who were returning from their first deployment. Lyda's duties consisted mainly of moving passengers and helping deliver cargo for U.S. military forces in Southwest Asia and operations in East Africa.

"I enjoyed it and getting to know my squadron," said Lyda, who PCSed to McChord in September of 2011.

As she returned home, she held a tennis racket, and there was a Spiderman pillow wrapped around her military duffle bag. As simple as it seemed, Lydia was looking forward to sitting down, visiting a local steak house and eating some good American food.

During the unit's deployment, C-17 squadron flew 635 sorties, equaling more than 1,600 hours, moved more than 45,985 passengers and delivered more than 19 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo.

The Airmen were deployed as the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and provided global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the assigned areas of responsibility.

Hewes helped rebuild a school for the deaf in Turkey, he said, which would help provide a better future for underprivileged Turkish children. There was even an opportunity to have a little fun with the local youth, who had water balloon fights at a day camp.

But now that Hewes is home, he couldn't be more excited.

"This is great," he said. "I'm looking forward to some time off."

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