(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
U. S. Army Spc. Kiel Cary, returning home from his tour in Afghanistan, took one long look at his son before scooping him up in his arms. He then picked up an obviously pleased Jonah, 8, and gave him a kiss and a hug, too.
The almost one-hour delay of Cary's flight did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for his homecoming by his family and friends in the airport lobby, as hugs were exchanged and his favorite song, "Lay 'em Down," played on a boom box.
Cary was deployed to Afghanistan as a gunner but instead was assigned as a chaplain assistant, according to Dick Trail, who attended Cary's return, with his wife, Ann.
The Trails first met the soldier when Ann bumped into Cary at the post office, where she was mailing packages to another combat unit for her "Adopt A Chaplain" project.
The Trails were on hand to help greet Cary at the airport, with Ann bringing the certificate of appreciation she received for the "care packages" she sends to combat units overseas.
"I feel like he's one of my sons," said Ann, who has come to know Cary's wife, Melissa, of McCook and other family members.
At his arrival in McCook, Cary didn't say too much but seemed overwhelmed by all the emotion generated in the airport lobby. In fact, no one said a whole lot, but long, from-the-heart hugs were exchanged.
"I think his eyes are leaking a little," a friend commented.
"I think a lot of eyes are leaking," someone else responded.
Prior to his arrival, Cary's mother-in-law, Toni Chancellor and mother, Margaret Cary, took turns caring for Sammy and Jonah while Melissa flew up for two weeks to meet her husband at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
With his overseas duty completed, the family will now move to Fort Bragg, said Chancellor.