'I'm Just Happy They Have Their Dad Back'

10:32 PM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Thursday about 100 families got reunited with their loved ones who had spent the last  six months in Afghanistan.

Emotions ran high as they were reunited with members of Shaw Air Force Base's 77th Fighter Squadron also known as the "Gamblers."

"It's been very hard, harder than I thought," said Casey Pegg.

Six months is a long time, but the few minutes waiting for your loved one can feel like an eternity, but for Kelly Smallwood the wait was worth it.

"It was just like excitement and pure joy to see him here, it's been a long six months and I am just happy to have him home," said Smallwood.

After being away for so long, Kelly's husband Captain Jeremy Smallwood just wants to enjoy the simple things.

"We have all of our family here so we are just going to go to Outback, sit down, have a steak and just eat a good meal and enjoy each other," said Smallwood.

"I was just so happy that they had their daddy back and I have my husband back," said Pegg.

For Captain Derek Pegg and his wife Casey, this deployment was a difficult one.

"We had a couple of deaths in the family so it was really tough for us."

But now that he is back, Derek hopes to give his wife a much needed break.

"To come back and see my kids, help my wife out because she has had to do everything by herself and that's a lot of work, especially with this guy," said Derek.

For the wives that are left to take the role of being mom and dad...Smallwood said she could not have stayed positive without the support from family and other military wives.

"We just stuck together, we set goals. Working out was one of them so we worked out together and just hang out and that with my family is what kept me going and knowing that he was doing something that he loved," said Smallwood.

If being halfway around the world wasn't enough, constantly thinking about family and friends at home... this squadron had to deal with the death of one of their own, Captain James Steel.

"It was a tough loss, it was tragic, but ultimately we were out there to continue to do the job, regardless of what happens so," said Jeremy.

So in the midst of tragedy, members from the 77th "The Gamblers," can sleep well knowing that their mission abroad is complete and can focus on making memories with loved ones here at home.


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