Army Cpl. James Loder’s daughter, Emersyn, was 5½ months old when he finally met her Tuesday.

Loder, who deployed to Afghanistan in May, didn’t want to miss her birth, so he had called in on FaceTime.

“Thank God for technology,” said his wife, Macy Loder.

Live music and loud chatter filled the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center at Fort Carson as hundreds of people waited for about 175 soldiers to walk through the doors, home for the first time in months.

The soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division left for Afghanistan in April and May.

Several more groups of soldiers are expected to return to Fort Carson from Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

Jessica Leslie hoisted a sign for her returning husband, saying: “Love endures all things, even deployment.” It’s a twist on the Bible verse from 1 Corinthians 13.

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“We’re really big Christians, so we have a lot of faith,” Leslie said. “I saw this Bible verse, and I just thought it really meant a lot, because love endures everything, including separation. You grow a lot with yourself, and then you can grow together, too.”

Macy Loder held her daughter, who wore a red, white and blue outfit, and a heart-shaped sign that said, “Welcome home, daddy! I’ve waited my whole life to meet you.”

She said she hoped Emersyn would recognize his voice. Before James Loder left for Afghanistan, he recorded himself reading Dr. Seuss books, and Macy played the recordings over and over for their daughter while he was gone.

“She would listen to those books when she would get upset, so she’s heard his voice,” Macy said. “I’m hoping that makes the transition a little easier.”

Before her husband arrived, Macy said she was having trouble describing how she felt.

“I don’t feel like it’s a feeling that you can describe. Obviously super nervous because it’s been so long, but such excitement for her to be able to finally meet him in real life. I want to see that interaction. And then just to be able to be home and try to go back to everyday life with him here, instead of in Afghanistan far away.”

After embracing his wife and daughter, James Loder said he was “absolutely speechless.” He said the first thing he planned to do when they got home was read a book to Emersyn.

“This is the first time I’ve seen her other than through a phone, and it’s the happiest I could be right now,” he said.

Ellie is a general assignment reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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