By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – It was 4 a.m., but that didn't stop Tanya Laboone. It was 37 degrees, but that didn't stop her, either.
Her children, Kadin, 8, Adrik, 4, and Joscelin, 2, were bundled up and snuggled under a blanket. If it rained, Tanya had an umbrella.
In fact, nothing could have stopped Tanya from sitting next to the 1st Cavalry Division's parade field on Monday morning. Her husband, Spc. Jeremy Laboone, was set to arrive home after his first tour to Iraq.
"At this point, we'd do just about anything," Tanya said.
The kids were excited, but "you can't see it because they're cold," she added.
Jeremy and about 220 other soldiers from the division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned to Fort Hood after 15 months in Iraq. The soldiers were from the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment and 215th Brigade Support Battalion.
Tanya was there to see her husband of five years when he left more than a year ago. He missed Thanksgiving last year and just missed it again, but they'll probably celebrate it today, Tanya said.
"But at least he'll be home for Christmas," she said.
Jeremy joined the Army in early 2005. It was a joint decision between the two and Tanya said she hopes he will continue after his service is set to end in 2011.
Like many spouses of deployed soldiers, Tanya said it's been tough being a single parent for more than a year. Jeremy was halfway through the deployment when it was announced tours would be extended by three months. It was overwhelming to know that instead of six months, Jeremy had nine left, Tanya said, but she didn't think about it a lot because she was so busy with the kids.
"You do what you've got to do and deal with things," she said.
Getting to know the other spouses helped a lot during the deployment, too. The Laboones were at Fort Hood a year before Jeremy deployed and Tanya didn't get to know the other spouses until after he left. If it hadn't been for them, Tanya said she wouldn't have gotten such good information about when Jeremy was coming home and what to expect.
Though Kadin, Adrik and Joscelin were sleepy, they perked up when five white buses pulled up to the parade field and began unloading. Maybe it was because of the deafening cheers from the waiting family and friends or maybe it was because Tanya stood up on the bench and exclaimed, "Which one's Daddy on?" and "Daddy's coming!"
As the formation of soldiers marched forward, another spouse leaned over and said to Joscelin, "Daddy's out there!"
Joscelin smiled and scanned the rows of identical Army Combat Uniforms as she sat in her mother's arms. She called out "Daddy!" and pointed to the soldiers. Every time a family member would cheer loudly or scream, she'd laugh.
Finally, the soldiers were dismissed and four-fifths of the Laboone family stayed at their post in the bleachers. As Jeremy approached, Tanya teased impatiently, "Hurry up!" He broke into a jog and she hopped to the ground and ran to his waiting arms. The boys followed soon after and were quickly scooped up.
After hugs all around, the Laboones quickly went to retrieve Jeremy's bag so they could get in from the cold.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7547