November 20, 2011
Homecomings at Fort Carson after deployments are often filled with firsts.
On Sunday, the homecoming for the 170 soldiers of the 43rd Sustainment Brigade’s 59th Quartermaster Company was no exception.
The Loveridge family was welcoming back Tom and Jessie who had gotten married and joined the Army together in 2010 and had their first deployment together. Jessica Gutierrez was excited to introduce her 3-month-old son John to his father.
But there were no such firsts for the McKelvey family.
Sgt. Anthony McKelvey was returning home after his third deployment. He and the rest of his company were coming home after seven months in from Afghanistan, where they helped supply petroleum and also provided convoy security and logistics patrols.
After so many deployments, his wife, Stephanie McKelvey has become used to scenes like the one Sunday at the Fort Carson Special Events Center. She was wearing red sparkly eye shadow and a red-white-and-blue lei . Her three boys were all wearing hand-decorated shirts welcoming their dad home.
They’ve lived through the deployments before and know that they might have to again.
“I hope not, but probably,” Stephanie McKelvey said. “It’s the life of a soldier’s family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
You’d think that deployments would be easy on them by now, but that’s not the case, she said.
“It actually gets harder every time,” she said.
Raising three boys without their dad is tough enough, but as time goes on the deployments add up, she said. There have been holidays missed and each of the boys can think of a birthday when their dad wasn’t there. Also, the older they get, the more they understand the dangers of war and the more scared they become when their dad ships out.
They each try to deal in their own way. Nine-year-old Kayden has his father’s picture in his wallet. Aaron, 7, sleeps with his father’s shirt wrapped around his pillow. Anthony, 13, tries to keep his mind off of it and distracts himself with activities like video games.
But on Sunday, those worries didn’t seem to matter. Even though they’ve welcomed their dad home twice before, they were as excited to have their soldier home as any other family there.
The four of them were happy and joking around until right before the troops came into the gym. When the song “Proud to be an American” came blasting over the speakers, Aaron started bawling and crawled into his mom’s lap. Kayden held his mom close while crying and even Anthony had watery eyes as he waited anxiously for the soldiers to enter the gym.
When the moment finally came and the soldiers marched in, the whole crowd jumped to its feet and started cheering. The McKelvey family was able to spot their soldier quickly and waved and clapped while he stood at attention with the rest of the troops.
When the soldiers were released, the four of them raced over and threw their arms around him. For a moment, they all held tight without moving and then their dad kissed them all, going from one to the next for at least three rounds, with an extra long kiss for his wife.
After a few minutes, they walked back to the bleachers and gathered the things they had ditched in their dash to the gym floor.
They were ready to get back to life after another deployment.
Stephanie McKelvey walked to her husband’s side and pulled him close.
“Let’s go home.”
Contact Maria St. Louis-Sanchez: 636-0274
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