by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — Families, friends and fellow Airmen gathered here today as maintenance professionals from the 366th Maintenance Group and 389th Fighter Squadron, â€˜T-Bolts,' returned from their six-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
For those returning, the night meant departing an overseas contingency where their combat air power met ground commander requirements as part of a combined-joint effort.
For those waiting at Building 809 near the flightline, the arrival meant a dad, mom, husband, wife or friend was finally home.
“This is our first child and Josh wasn't here for Madison's first steps or her first words,” said Gina Paige, referring to her one-year-old daughter Madison whose father Staff Sgt. Josh Paige from the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics shop was one of the many deployed Airmen, and he left when Madison was only six-months old.
“I really hope Madison can take her first steps to daddy,” said Paige. “Until now, she only knows him through web cams.”
Gina and Madison weren't the only family members awaiting their heroic Airman's return. One elementary school-aged child reflected on what she missed most while her dad was deployed.
“My daddy used to read my Rapunzel book to me every night before bed,” said six-year-old Aurea Paulino, daughter of Hillary and Airman 1st Class Michael Paulino, a 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron ammunition technician.
Like most military families, the Paulinos endured during the absence, eluded Aurea, when she proudly proclaimed,” I'm six now and could read Rapunzel myself, but I still missed daddy reading to me.”
The Airmen can now look forward to a few weeks of rest and family time, before getting back to their mission of continuing to provide the elite 366th Fighter Wing â€˜Gunfighter' combat airpower.
In the photo above, Brenna Allen hugs her three-year-old son. She is a 2004 VHHS graduate.