Senior Master Sgt. Jason Garner tried to keep his emotions in check on Monday as he walked toward a concourse inside Will Rogers World Airport.


Senior Master Sgt. Jason Garner tried to keep his emotions in check on Monday as he walked toward a concourse inside Will Rogers World Airport.
But the sounds of cheers and the sight of his family waiting to greet him as he returned from a 6-month deployment in Iraq provided too much emotion to keep the tears from flowing.
“I was trying not to cry too much,” Garner said as he clutched his 3-year-old son, Koehn. “It’s extremely emotional. I just can’t put it into words.”
Garner was among the first of about 40 Air Force Reserve members from the 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker Air Force Base who arrived Monday at the airport in Oklahoma City.
Most are part-time airmen from across Oklahoma and Texas who were activated to full-time status and deployed to provide base security at Kirkuk Air Base in northern Iraq, said Col. Clay Childs, vice commander for the 507th Air Refueling Wing.
“I’m happy to report all our airmen are coming back with no duty-related injuries,” Childs said. “It’s exciting for me, and it’s rewarding as a leader to see your people deploy, do their mission successfully and return home with honor and pride.”
Cheers and applause greeted the airmen as they filed into the airport concourse.
Jaren Sosa, 6, held up a yellow sign with the name of his aunt, Senior Airman Amanda Fleming of San Antonio. Fleming’s husband, James, and the couple’s 18-month-old son also eagerly awaited her return.
“She’s ready to come home and see them,” said Fleming’s sister, Mindy Sosa, who drove up from San Antonio to greet her sister.
The reservists were expected to spend Monday night with their families and return to Tinker on Tuesday for several days of debriefing, during which they will be provided any services they need as they make the transition back to civilian life, said Tinker spokesman Darren Heusel.
For Garner, his priority Monday was spending time with his wife, Brandi, and their two sons. His youngest son, Kendahl, was just one week old when he left for Iraq 6 months ago. Garner, who is an Oklahoma City police officer, said being apart from his family was difficult, but that it’s a part of being in the Air Force Reserves.
“You just suck it up and do what you’ve got to do,” Garner said. “Hopefully when the boys get old enough, they’ll realize it was for a higher cause.”
Additional flights bringing home members of the 507th were scheduled to arrive at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday.