By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
When Sgt. Stacey Harlow stepped in the Tupelo Regional Airport on Friday after a year-long stint in Afghanistan, he seemed oblivious to the cheers and applause from dozens of family, friends and fellow soldiers.
Harlow looked left and right, scanning the crowd and the many welcome home signs being waved in front of him.
It wasn’t that Harlow was ungrateful to everyone who’d shown up to show him love, but there was one person in particular he’d waited months to get that love from first.
Then, one loud shout turned his anticipation into instant joy.
“Daddy,” screamed little 3-year-old Mia Alexis Page Harlow as she navigated through the crowd to get to her soldier.
“Come here, baby,” Harlow yelled out, dropping to his knees with arms wide open. “Daddy is home, baby, Daddy is home.”
Harlow, of Pontotoc, and fellow solider Lt. Joseph Fields from the Burns community in Prentiss County, were the last two soldiers from the 658th Quartermaster Company to return home from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. The men were attached to the 212 Transportation Company out of Chattanooga, Tenn.
When Fields entered the terminal, he was immediately greeted by his wife Stephanie. Few words were passed between the two as Fields held on tightly to his wife, who soaked his uniform in tears.
Both men’s parents, Wade and Tina Martin for Fields, and Sandra and Terry Harlow for Harlow, also were waiting for their soldiers. Tina and Sandra were prepared to wait behind leading ladies, Stephanie and Mia, but made sure they were second in line for hugs and kisses.
“It’s been a long year,” said Sandra Harlow. “I’m just tickled to death that he’s home safe and sound. We have missed him so much and this little girl is ready to see her daddy.”
Tina Martin said she saw her son in September during a two-week leave, but that seemed like ages ago.
“He’s home and he’s home for good now,” she said. “At least until the next deployment, but at least he’s here safe.”
Seeing the group assembled to greet just two soldiers was an overwhelming feeling for the men.
“It’s wonderful to be home and it’s great to know you have this type of support,” said Fields. “No one needs to go through this alone, so I’m glad we had people back home to love and care for us.”
All the commotion swirling around the airport didn’t bother Mia and Harlow one bit. He chased her from one end of the lobby to the next, often darting in and out of the crowd. He rolled around with her on the floor and lifted her over his head.
They jumped, bounced and tickled one another until her cheeks were cherry red from all the laughter.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.