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Soldiers Return Home To Their Families Day
by Army Sgt. Derek Kuhn - October 27, 2011

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A.J. Harrington, 5, son of Staff Sgt. Adam and Amanda Harrington, points to his father’s unit as they march toward the green ramp on Pope Army Air Field, Oct. 5, 2011. Harrington is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Analysis Control Element which returned from a 12 month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. Photo by Army Sgt. Derek Kuhn
A.J. Harrington, 5, son of Staff Sgt. Adam and Amanda Harrington, points to his father's unit as they march toward the green ramp on Pope Army Air Field, Oct. 5, 2011. Harrington is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps' Analysis Control Element which returned from a 12 month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. Photo by Army Sgt. Derek Kuhn
 FORT BRAGG, N.C. (10/24/2011) -- To the average person, 365 days is just another year, but to the family of a deployed soldier, 365 is the countdown to being reunited with their loved-ones.

One Family whose countdown finally came to an end was the Harringtons.

Amanda Harrington and her two small children A.J., 5, and Cassidy, 2, along with several other families, gathered inside the waiting area at the green ramp hours before the XVIII Airborne Corps' Analysis Control Element returned from a 12 month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn at Pope Army Air Field, N.C., Oct. 5. The green ramp is a portion of Pope Army Air Field where redeploying service members return stateside.

“It has been a long, hard year,” said Harrington, wife of Staff Sgt. Adam Harrington, a human intelligence collector with ACE, XVIII ABN Corps. “I can't believe today is finally here.”

Harrington's son A.J. was also excited about the day, but for a different reason, she said. A.J. was excited to go to school. Harrington didn't tell A.J. or his sister until the morning of their father's arrival that their dad was coming home.

“I knew he wouldn't have gotten any sleep,” Harrington said, “so I waited to tell him. When he found out, A.J. was ecstatic.”
“My daddy is coming home, today” A.J. said. “We are going to have fun. We'll wrestle, and watch movies.”

But the reunion's excitement was bittersweet, Harrington said, because of the long days when her children didn't understand where daddy was and when he would be back.

“They would say, ‘mommy, where's daddy?'” Harrington said. “Or they would want to do something, but they would tell me they couldn't ‘because daddy wasn't there.' They just couldn't understand the situation,” she added.

However, the Harringtons made it through the deployment and are a stronger Family now, she said.

“We tried to stay as connected as we could,” Staff Sgt. Harrington said. “We talked on the phone and video chatted as much as we could.”

“That helped [the video chat and phone calls],” Harrington said, “but we always would've rather had Adam home with us. I am so happy he is back.”

Holding his daughter's hand, Staff Sgt. Harrington said he shared his wife's sentiments.

“I'm proud to have served my country down range,” he said. “But nothing made me prouder than when I saw the look in my Family's eyes when I got back.”

More associated images in frame below

By Army Sgt. Derek Kuhn
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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