This chapter is accompanied by a video recording made during the events described below. To see the following video clip, you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer system. Click here to download this player for free.
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Click here to view the Chapter 37 "Welcome Home" Tape.
The sun set as we crossed over the Rocky Mountains. Forty-five minutes later, we began to descend. As we passed over the Wasatch Mountains, I could see the lights of Salt Lake City in the distance. Batman's face was glued to the window in front of me, and I asked him if he was as nervous as I was. His wife gave birth back in December, and this would be the first time he saw his newborn child. The passengers around us seemed just as excited as we were. Most of the women were crying, and everyone wanted to know if our families would be there to greet us.
A few minutes after the captain shut down the engines, an American Airlines representative came on the address system and asked us to remain on board the aircraft: "We have about two hundred people in the concourse, and the local news wants to capture the reunion on film."
After the other passengers deplaned, the flight attendants
gave each of us a hug. The agent was standing in the jetway, and told us they were ready for us to come out. We said goodbye to the pilots and began to make our way toward the concourse. I was so nervous, I could barely walk. As we approached the end of the jetway, bright lights appeared.
"Oh, man," Jabba muttered. "There's gonna be a bunch of cameras up there."Batman and Norge were ten feet in front of us. As they entered the
concourse, everyone started to scream. I followed the two of them out. Seconds later, I spotted Colette running toward me. We embraced and the tears began to flow. We kissed and hugged, and then I reached down to pick up Candice and Kristen. The girls were so beautiful.
Our neighbors Dan and Sue Runyan were there, along with hundreds of others who came out from Hill AFB to welcome us home. While I
was holding Kristen, a reporter from one of the local stations walked up and asked me how my family looked to me.
"They're beautiful. Everyone's beautiful!"
"Is there anything you want to say to the people watching at home?"
"Thank you for supporting us, and everything you did the past six months."
I looked at Colette, Candice, and Kristen.
"It's great to be a family again."