I promised to post more about Justin's return, so here it is.
The homecoming ceremony was at the Allstate Arena, but the Marines were flying into Midway & there was a motorcade from the airport to the arena. The motorcade was starting only 2 blocks from our house so I was tempted to go late to the ceremony to watch it, but I didn't want to miss Justin's release. As we left the house, we could see all the motorcycles & police cars gathering for the motorcade. We took some pictures (none came out very good), thanked them, & I cried, of course.
We all arrived at the arena at about 9:30 am. They announced the guys would be there by 11:00, but probably closer to 10:30! We all sat in the seating area for a while, then Dayna, my parents, & Adam headed to the floor (only 4 family members were allowed on the floor) while me, John, Cooper, & Dayna's sister Jayci waited in the seats. Justin and Dayna decided to keep Zak & Caycee at home so their reunion could be a little calmer & the kids wouldn't be all crabby & overwhelmed by the time Justin got there.
So we waited. And waited. Then they told us one of their busses broke down on 294, but not to worry because they were loading onto the remaining busses & heading to us. So we waited. And waited. It was 10:45, 11:00, 11:15. Rumors were flying around. People were getting calls & texts from the guys. The announcement said they were almost there, then we heard they were still stuck, but not far from the arena, then they were on their way, then they were still stranded. So we tried to come up with our own rumors to start... they stopped at the riverboat casino before the ceremony, they were protecting Joe Biden until the Secret Service could step in, they couldn't take how cold it was here and stopped to buy parkas, or, my personal favorite, they were off fighting a dragon like in the Marine commercials.
Finally, Dayna got a call from Justin that they were on their way. John, Cooper, & I headed outside to watch the motorcade coming in. It was awesome! So many motorcycles & police cars... I cried, of course. I texted Justin we were out there & we didn't see him, but he saw us. We took a video of it on our camera, but I couldn't get it to upload here. If you want to see it, John has it on his Facebook page.
We hussled back inside & waited again. Finally, they marched them out. We were pretty far away, but I could see Justin. This is a picture Adam took from much closer. They all look the same, but Justin's in the front, third from the left.
There was a very short speech (or something, I don't really remember & I wasn't paying attention) & then they released them. Even from as far away as we were (too far for any decent pictures), I could see Justin grab Dayna. I think he was the first Marine to his family!
Adam took this picture outside by the cars:
Justin was anxious to get home & we all piled in the cars & headed back to see the kids. When we got to Dayna's, everyone else went in first & Justin held back for a while so he could surprise the kids so we waited for him to come in.
Finally Zak got to hug his Daddy! He was very excited, & a little in shock.
Justin brought gifts for Zak & Caycee.
This is the house for Justin's homecoming. Dayna's dad & his firefighter/paramedic friends stopped by to welcome Justin home. Zak loved it - he had his mom & dad, two papas, two nanas, & two "papa cars" (firetruck & ambulnce).
Here's Justin with Zak & Caycee with her papa (Dayna's dad)...
Finally, the family is reunited.