Happy Father’s Day: Returning Soldiers Get First Look at Newborn Children

Photo Credit: Abel Uribe

Stationed thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, Illinois National Guard soldier Paul Stansbury was crushed when he missed the birth of his son, Hunter, five months ago.

His experiences as a new father were limited to a collection of digitized, two-dimensional photos of his son posted on Facebook and one Skype conversation that made him yearn to hear more of the boy’s voice, and to inhale that baby smell that fills the hearts of most parents.

That wish came true on Saturday when Stansbury and about 130 other National Guard soldiers returned home from a 10-month deployment, just in time to celebrate Father’s Day with their families.

“This is unbelievable,” said Stansbury, 22, as he held a crying Hunter in his arms for the first time, kissing his cheeks and seemingly not wanting to let go. “He’s a perfect child.”

With nine other soldiers also finally meeting their recently born children and the soldiers’ parents gathered at O’Hare International Airport to welcome everyone home, the morning was filled with tears, laughter and expressions of relief.

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