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Troops return home to Oklahoma

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Amanda Fleming's family members wait with a sign to welcome her home from being deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the year. Amanda Fleming's family members wait with a sign to welcome her home from being deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the year.
Amanda and James' 18-month-old son Braden. Amanda and James' 18-month-old son Braden.
The family reunites after Amanda being overseas for six months. The family reunites after Amanda being overseas for six months.
By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Six months doesn't seem like a long time but when a loved one is overseas in a war zone it can feel like an eternity.

The wait came to an end for several families Monday with the return of more than 40 airmen deployed from Tinker Air Force Base.

The men and women were deployed back in January. Monday the first of the airmen began arriving back in Oklahoma City to many hugs and a lot of tears.

It is a day James Fleming has been waiting for since his wife, Amanda, deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the year.

"It's been pretty long," James said. "Both of us had to go through a big separation. This is our first big separation and just being separated in general puts hardship on your family."

In that time James has had to play Mr. Mom to the couple's 18-month-old son Braden with the help of other family members.

His wife is part of the 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker. She and the other airmen were deployed to Kirkuk Air Base in Northern Iraq to provide perimeter security.

"It feels like she'd be just across the street or something and I just can't talk to her, but she's on the other side of the earth," James said.

Monday, with anticipation at its highest it was all over in seconds with husband, wife and child reunited.

"All the emotions came out at once, but it feels great," James said. "We can finally get back to what we were doing before she left."

Another 35 airmen were scheduled to come in Monday night, including two who became fathers while they were deployed. They'll get to see their babies for the first time.

Tinker said there are no immediate plans to redeploy any of the airmen; however, they will be ready to go if called upon.

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