Thursday, November 3, 2011
Zane Hebert ran to one of 50 airmen and women who returned to McConnell Air Force Base tonight and yelled, "Daddy!"
It was a grand homecoming from kids happy to have their dad back in time for the holidays.
"I wanted him to watch me open my presents," said Zane, the son of Justin Hebert, a crew chief who returned home on Thursday.
Families were eager to give and receive hugs and kisses from the first group of airmen and women back home.
"It was wonderful. The kids had no idea. I told them we were going to do something fun on base so they were completely surprised when they seen him walk down," said Zane's mother, Rebecca Hebert.
The end of the seven-month U.S. air mission in Libya meant that 50 airmen and women could walk down from two KC-135 stratotankers and return to the arms of loved ones.
"It's a huge sense of relief to have him home and just to get our family back together and try to go back to our every day lives," said Holly Zahm, wife of returning airman.
They were the first group of airmen and women to return from Operation Unified Protector. They provided air refueling support for operations in Libya.
"This entire operation happened at a very short notice. McConnell packed up very quickly. Within 24 hours, we were gone and we were employing. That made a huge difference for the Libyan people, in order for them to rise up," said Lt. Col. Robert Pochert, operations officer.
The group was glad to be back in Kansas reunited with family.
"Every time seeing these guys is always tough to remain professional but you've got to do it. But it doesn't stop me from holding on to him and not letting him go 'til I put him to bed tonight," said Capt. Taylor Zahm.
Additional airmen and women and KC-135s will return over the next few weeks.