5 heartwarming Armed Forces homecomings
It's a promise
By Rich Maloof
Colin Pascik and Justin Baldridge were friends in a U.S. Marine unit deployed in Afghanistan. Three and a half months after being stationed there, Pascik lost both his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). After returning home, he promised Baldridge in a satellite call from California that he would walk to him and give him a hug when he returned home. Pascik made good on his promise when Baldridge returned in 2010. He rose and made his way to his buddy, steadying himself on a pair of crutches and two prosthetic limbs.
Baldridge told the Huffington Post, “The feeling of being reunited with a brother that you had already been through so much with and haven’t seen in almost half a year is indescribable.”
When Pfc. Coral Heazlit returned from 10 months in Afghanistan, she was welcomed back not only by family but by her entire hometown of Maricopa, Ariz. Local news reported that firefighters drove Heazlit into her neighborhood aboard a fire engine as dozens if not hundreds of loved ones, neighbors and community leaders lined the streets to thank her for her service.
The event was organized by military moms Lisa Durst and Tracy Davis. Davis’ own son has not yet returned home.
She told AZFamily.com, “I’m living vicariously through this soldier’s homecoming because I don’t know when my son will be home.”
Man's best friend
Navy hospital corpsman Eric Ralston of Northglenn, Colo., was a month into his eight-month deployment in Guam when he received sad news from home: His 11-year-old dog, Kermie, had been diagnosed with cancer. Veterinarians said she might live only two to three months more. Kermie held on as Ralston’s date of return grew near – but when his deployment was extended indefinitely, the family was sure the two would never get to see each other again.
But Ralston caught a break and was allowed to come home for the 2012 holidays. The family captured video of Kermie wearing a red ribbon, appearing healthier than she had in months, and bounding out the front door to welcome Ralston.
Search the Web for “homecoming surprises” and you’ll find hundreds of heart-melting videos of service members astonishing their families when they appear on home turf unexpectedly. Far rarer is when the family gets to surprise the service member, as in this reunion of an Arizona marine and his 8-year-old sister.
See the nearly wordless reunion at WelcomeHomeBlog.
The 18-year-old daughter of Army Master Sgt. Joseph Devine was a high-school senior and president of her school’s speech team when an evening event at her school March 15 concluded with her presentation of a 10-minute speech. But before the lights came up, a “very special audience member” was announced and invited to the stage.
Devine, still in camouflage, surprised his daughter onstage with a bouquet of flowers and a long embrace after being in Afghanistan for a year. His wife, Kathryn Devine, captured the father-daughter reunion.