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Couple gets holiday surprise

Newlywed pilots spend Christmas deployed together

McChord Field couple J.T. and Angela Hearn recently deployed together with the 4th Airlift Squadron. /Tyler Hemstreet

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First Lt. J.T. Hearn was emotionally preparing himself to celebrate Christmas in Turkey separated from his wife Angela.

The Hearns had met in pilot training and the couple got married in July 2011 prior to deploying together in late October with the 4th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field.

They had come across each other's paths a couple of times during the deployment, but lately the timing hadn't been right.

"The first location that we were at we couldn't see each other very much," said Angela, a captain. "Girls aren't allowed in the boys dorms. Then he left and did airdrop at another location for the majority of the deployment."

That was the last time the couple thought they'd see of each other. But the squadron's leadership decided the newlyweds needed to be together for their first Christmas.

"My crew was done with our airdrop mission and we were headed to Turkey and I was on the ramp in Afghanistan (feeling) sad, lugging my bags across the ramp," J.T. said. "Then I hear, ‘J.T.! J.T.!' And, oh, there is my wife with all her bags. I was like, ‘Where are you going?' ‘She was like, ‘I'm going to Turkey with you!'"

"It was just amazing," Angela said of the chance to spend the holiday with each other. "Still deployed, but together."

The couple was among the more than 120 Airmen who returned home to McChord Field Jan. 4 after a 60-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The 4th AS Airmen were deployed as the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in two overseas contingency locations in the Middle East.

"Carrying more than 300 fellow Servicemembers each day in support of Operation Enduring Freedom was such a unique and rewarding experience," Angela said.

The Hearns said they were happy to be back home and were getting set to welcome Angela's parents for a visit to their Tacoma home.

"We're looking forward to being a normal married couple for a week," J.T. said with a smile.

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