NEW ORLEANS -- More than 200 airmen with the Louisiana National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing are safely back home from a tour of service in the Middle East.
After being gone for several months, they were greeted by quite the welcome party when they touched down Thursday night.
“We were literally, we were coming down, and the pilot actually got on the intercom, and he said if you guys want to direct your attention to the side, you will actually see your welcome home greeters,” said Master Sgt. Alison Everett.
Balloon, signs and anxious faces filled Hangar 5 at the naval air station in Belle Chase. Family and friends of the Louisiana National Guard’s 159th fighter wing were waiting -- ever so patiently -- for their loved ones to arrive.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Debbie Brunet, Everett’s mother.
“This is why we are here. This is part of why we are the guard. We deploy, we send jets overseas in support of national security. We've done that, done a great job of that, now we're coming home to be back with the families. We're just excited they are going to do that,” said Roy Qualls, commander of the 159th Fighter Wing.
While the airmen served thousands of miles away in the Middle East, their support network cheered from here at home.
“She sent me letters and then we video chat through Skype, and she calls me. We stay in touch very well,” said Kaitlyn Pickett, Everett’s daughter.
Kaitlyn and her family were part of the crowd waiting for Master Sgt. Alison Everett to walk off the jet plane shortly after it touched down.
The airmen were also greeted by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
For those who choose to serve, nights like this one make every second, minute and hour spent away well worth it.
”Knowing that I’ll come home to this, knowing that I will finally eventually come home to this,” Everett said.
The entire 159th Fighter Wing is made up of 1200 airmen from the Louisiana National Guard.