It is the hardest thing for a parent to not be there for the birth of their child. But it must be a million times harder for a parent serving their country and knowing there is nothing that they can do in order to be with their loved ones during the most important time of their life. Military life is not easy. But there is no sweeter moment than coming home from a combat deployment. And there is definitely nothing like reuniting with your beautiful wife but most importantly meeting your baby daughter!

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This past few homecomings I have photographed have brought home hundreds of soldiers and reunited thousands of loved ones separated by 9 long months and many dusty miles. While some families have experience this before, my darling client Danielle was a newbie at this and patiently waited 266 days to see the love of her life. I couldn’t tell who was more excited and emotional about what was about to happen: Danielle or her two beautiful daughter Vivian and Cora (or me).

This time around the homecoming time was changed so many times, even delayed by weeks, that no one had any patience left, but this was the first time when I met someone who remained calm until the last moment, never losing her mind from the constant curve-balls that the Army likes to throw.

With a cool head and a longing heart, Danielle took care of her babies and patiently waited until the buses showed up and we saw them through the glass doors. I think that was the first time it truly hit. It was finally feeling real. They were back! Just minutes away from finally being reunited. This was the moment when the tears started to fill up, and the heart started pounding like crazy.

Vivian held mommy close, while Cora wondered what what the commotion all about. All until the doors opened and the troops started to march towards us. Tears streaming down everyones’ faces (including mine, even now while I write this). It was the sweetest reunion as Danielle and the girls couldn’t hold it anymore and just darted towards their dad to finally hold and kiss him! Welcome back SGT. Rodriguez!