They’re back – welcome home 115th!

There’s just something different about hearing the roar from a jet that has been more than 7,000 miles away for the last four months. The excitement it brings when that first sound is heard. The way it makes you practically jump out of your boots when you see it fly overhead. The way it rumbles the ground beneath you as it passes.

150417-Z-VW421-011 150417-Z-VW421-018 150417-Z-VW421-020

I was fortunate enough to be on the flightline as the first two rounds of four-ships arrived safely in Madison. I watched each pilot stretch his legs as he got out of the cockpit – it was obvious they were cramped up in there.

I witnessed the spouses, kids, parents and friends rush to their pilots – so incredibly pumped that they made it home safely.

150417-Z-VW421-038 150417-Z-VW421-047 150417-Z-VW421-056 150417-Z-VW421-103 150417-Z-VW421-124 150417-Z-VW421-141 150417-Z-VW421-231 150417-Z-VW421-253 150417-Z-VW421-325 150417-Z-VW421-334 150417-Z-VW421-400

Then, a couple days later I got to join the families and friends of 115th Fighter Wing Airmen as they welcomed their loved ones home. The excitement was similar – the tears of happiness flowed as hugs and kisses were given. Welcome home signs were everywhere, photos were being snapped continuously, the love that filled the hangar surrounded everyone. Even people who didn’t know each other prior to the deployment were sharing stories of their adventures. It was easy to see the relief in all their eyes to be home again.

150419-Z-VW421-041150419-Z-VW421-032

150419-Z-VW421-027150419-Z-VW421-073150419-Z-VW421-005 150419-Z-VW421-006

Watching the kids light up as their moms and dads arrived was the absolute best part. There was so much excitement and energy and eagerness in all of them.

150419-Z-VW421-008 150419-Z-VW421-017 150419-Z-VW421-022 150419-Z-VW421-084 150419-Z-VW421-060

Weekends like this past weekend are the absolute best. The base was full of people – happy people, proud to be a part of this amazing organization – pleased to be a part of the 115th Fighter Wing.

To those who deployed – we know this journey wasn’t an easy one, but we’re glad to have you home!

150419-Z-VW421-086 150419-Z-VW421-096 150419-Z-VW421-104 150419-Z-VW421-112 150419-Z-VW421-116 150419-Z-VW421-120

To read more about the main body return/welcome ceremony – click here.

About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.