By Jackie Stone
Killeen Daily Herald
Teresa Gorres hung back when her four children ran to meet their father, Lt. Col. Jeff Gorres, as he entered the main terminal at Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport on Monday.
It had been seven months since he had seen her in person and at least five months since Teresa had sent him a picture of herself. Since then, Teresa had lost 102 pounds of the 270 pounds she weighed when Jeff left for Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command's Forward Operation Assessment Team XIV.
"He's never even seen me this small. I was 15 pounds heavier when we got married," Teresa said. "I kind of feel like maybe he won't recognize me."
Her surprise plan didn't last long against the temptation to go to her husband. Gorres' face lit up as he caught sight of his wife and gathered her into his arms.
"It's unreal," he said, before hugging her and his children again.
Monday marked the end of the fourth deployment for the Gorreses and their four children: Gabriella, 8; John, 6; Jeremiah, 4; and Madelynn, 2.
Teresa said she put on weight with each child. She had tried to lose weight during previous deployments, but then she would have another child. This time she chose a diet she knew had been successful, and relied on support from her family and neighbors.
Teresa said she wasn't worried about how Jeff would react to the change. He had supported her completely as she tried to drop the weight. She said she dropped the weight for herself, and felt a lot more energy to handle the couple's four children while their father was away.
Gorres said his wife's weight-loss success was just a bonus on top of his return.
"It's always good. It's the best thing in the world," he said. "She's got the tougher job than I do by leaps and bounds. I'm blessed to have her as my wife and best friend."
Forward Operational Assessment Team XIV returned 24 members on Monday, including soldiers, civilians and contractors. The teams deploy generally for six months at a time to assess, test and evaluate Army systems and equipment in the field, said James Amato, executive director of the command.
"It's extremely demanding because we're trying to get real-time reports," Amato said. "It's a lot of traveling to remote outposts to talk to soldiers and get their appreciation of the equipment."
Since 2003, teams have embedded with units in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait to collect data.
New teams are sent into theater regularly in order to stay up to date on new equipment, Amato said.
Another assessment team has already deployed in place of Team XIV.
Contact Jackie Stone at email@example.com or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcityeditor.