Friday, December 23, 2011

TOP STORY >> Airmen back in time for a joyous holiday

Leader staff writer

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” had a special meaning for more than 80 airmen from Little Rock Air Force Base’s 19th Airlift Wing, who returned this weekend on five C-130s in time to celebrate the holidays with loved ones.

Family and friends gathered and watched with anticipation near the flight line as the C-130s landed and parked in front of them on Friday.

As soon as the plane’s propellers stopped and the door dropped, the airmen stepped out of the C-130s to warm greetings in the cold winds. They were met with big smiles, long hugs and many kisses from family and friends. The airmen, mostly aviators and maintenance crew members, came back after a scheduled four-month deployment to support war operations in Southwest Asia.

“Nothing is more special than our airmen returning from battle. To see the joy on the wives’ and kids’ faces, it is the best present Santa could ever bring,” said Col. Mike Minihan, commander of 19th Airlift Wing.

Amy Gaul of Cabot was one of many to come out and welcome their loved ones. She said she was very excited to see her husband, Master Sgt. Eric Gaul, arrive back home. His arrival was a surprise to their sons, Walker, 13, Thomas, 8, and David, 6, who did not know their father was flying back yesterday.

“It will be nice to have him home for Christmas,” Amy Gaul said as she waited for the C-130 to land.