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Homecoming for Oklahoma Air National Guard members

Updated:
It's a happy homecoming for some Oklahoma families involved in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Eleven members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard 138th fighter wing returned to Tulsa Wednesday night after spending 6 months in the middle east.

Families gathered at the airport with all the trimmings to celebrate the arrival. Deanna Hutchens of Claremore, and her four daughters, couldn't wait for Dad to come home.

Deanna Hutchens, Claremore Resident: "A lot of love... a lot of pride... waiting for him to get off the plane. Probably going to be a lot of kids running and hugging and just excitement."

After 178 days, and a 30 hour flight from halfway across the world... the moment they'd been waiting for arrived.

Barry Hutchens, 138th Fighter Wing: "It's good to be home. It really is, kind of a long one, but there is definite meaning to it. But its good to be home. Glad to be with the family and hope and pray for the guys still over there. Hopefully they'll make it through and hopefully everybody is praying for them and we'll keep them safe."

The 138th Fighter Wing had been patroling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq when the September 11th attacks occurred.

They returned to Tulsa later that month and were redeployed in October.

It is a moment these family members have been waiting for ever since their loved ones left Tulsa International Airport for Oman.

They are getting ready, with balloons and signs welcome home daddy lumps in their throats and joy in their hearts.

Deanna Hutchens of Claremore, and her four daughters, are waiting for Dad to come home.

Deanna Hutchens, Claremore Resident: "A lot of love... a lot of pride... waiting for him to get off the plane. Probably going to be a lot of kids running and hugging and just excitement."

Hutchens has so much to tell her husband. The baby has grown so fast over the last six months. A family wants to be reunited.

Rebekah Hutchens, Claremore Resident: "Most of all, we miss him. And we want him to come back."

12 year old Ashley Steele is also waiting for her dad. She has counted every day since he's been gone.

Ashley Steele, waiting on Dad: "I'm really excited about it, because I haven't got to hug him, touch him or anything else. I just got to talk to him."

Now after 178 days, and a 30 hour flight from halfway across the world. The moment they've waited for is here. Tech. Sgt. Barry Hutchens gets to see his girls. David Reeder of Coweta feels the hug of his five year old son. Tulsan Rodney Gardner the love of his daughter.

Rodney Gardner, 138th Fighter Wing: "It's almost like winning the lottery pretty much. I went and did what I'm trained to do.. what I love to do. Now that I'm back, it's like the icing on the cake."

David Reeder, 138th Fighter Wing: "It's surreal. The whole time we were there, it just stretched out and out and out. It's pretty wild. Very wild."

Barry Hutchens, 138th Fighter Wing: "It's good to be home. It really is, kind of a long one, but there is definite meaning to it. But its good to be home. Glad to be with the family and hope and pray for the guys still over there. Hopefully they'll make it through and hopefully everybody is praying for them and we'll keep them safe."

Which have been the prayers of the families of the 138th who are thankful to now have their loved ones home. "tears... but tears of joy."
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