Friday, July 2, 2010
The July 4th holiday will be even more memorable for several area military families. Friday morning, a handful of soldiers returned to Wichita after months of serving overseas.
For 1st Lt. Alexander Warthen, it's been nine months since he's seen his wife and two sons. They raced to meet him at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport Friday morning, moments after he stepped off a plane.
"I almost want to cry," Warthen said. "But I'm holding it in."
Warthen's wife, Amber, says it's been a long nine months.
"It's been very hard," she said. "I tell him wherever he goes next, we want to go, too."
The couple will celebrate their third wedding anniversary during Warthen's two week break from duty. Because of previous deployments, it will be the first anniversary they spend together.
A few minutes later, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Walls is greeted by his wife and three children. They've spent the last seven months apart.
"It feels good to be home," Walls said. "I'm ready for a break."
Wall's wife, Deana, couldn't stop smiling.
"It's America's birthday and to have home to celebrate with us, it's just unreal," she said.
Several more soldiers arrived with Warthen and Walls on Friday morning. But as they were greeted by family members, another family was saying goodbye.
Pvt. 1st Class Corwin Purkey hugged his family as he prepared to board a flight that would ultimately take him back to Iraq. Purkey just finished his own two week break from duty.
"I was able to hang out with some friends, go camping, and see some of the family," he said.
Purkey hopes to be home again in a few months. While he doesn't know an exact time, he knows he's leaving with his family's love and support.
"I couldn't be prouder of them," Purkey's mother, Susan Atkins, told KAKE News. "I've got a daughter over there, too."