SFC Felipe Sosa is greeted by his wife Angela upon his arrival home with other troops from Kosovo, Saturday, at the Roswell International Airport. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Faces pushed against a fence and Welcome Home signs fluttered while supporters and family members, tightly gripping American flags, formed two facing lines in the parking lot outside of the Roswell International Air Center, Saturday. Applause, cheers and whistles roared through the air as the first camouflage leg touched the top step to deboard the Southwest Airlines aircraft.
But the emotions surrounding seeing a loved one for the first time after many months went well beyond the public displays of affection, gratitude and joy.
For Samantha Thorsted, 7, the return of the soldiers with the New Mexico National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 200th Infantry, from Kosovo, meant her father Martin, would be able to see her first choir rehearsal in months. Samantha, her brother Soren, 4, sister Rose, 10, and mother Chris, dressed in green-and-camouflage in honor of their hero.
For Martin, the day meant reuniting with his “little mister,” “little beautiful,” and “super duper,” as he affectionately calls his three children.
Chris found out only the day before, via Skype, that her husband, also a New Mexico State Police officer, was returning home. Martin has completed five tours, and this past mission was the first time he served in Kosovo.
Chris wiped away tears and said her feelings toward seeing her husband again were indescribable. While he was away, Martin would become most frustrated that he wasn’t able to help fix things around the house. “Everything seems to break down when he’s gone,” she said.
Capt. Randall Bates estimated that 20 of the returning soldiers were from the Roswell area. The soldiers were part of a liaison monitoring team on mission in Kosovo.
Greeted with tears, tight hugs, kisses and words of gratitude, the soldiers made their way toward their respective family members, friends and supporters.
Trevis Reese, a member of the 200th Infantry, held his sister Naeemah close for a picture, the first taken together in a long time. Joined by other family members including his parents, Trevis was looking forward to eating his first meal with his family in months. Trevis said he was excited to spend the holidays with his family, since he was unable to be home for Thanksgiving.
As flags were rolled up, couples walked off holding hands, and youngsters clung to their moms and dads, as families got into their cars with plans of spending the holidays together.
More than 30 family members stood outside of the RIAC awaiting soldiers, and brothers, Urbano and Felipe Sosa. The family carried a huge sign with the words, “Merry Christmas and Welcome Home Urbano and Felipe.” Their sister, Trisha, said she was overjoyed to have them home.
Fighting back tears, their aunt Tina Lueras, said, “We’re a big family, and we missed them. They are the core of our family.”