GEORGETOWN, Del. – 50 soldiers with the Delaware National Guard returned home in Georgetown for the first time in nine months, but for one soldier, that was not the only first on Tuesday.
Specialist Jordan Jones reunited with his wife, mom, and other loved ones he said goodbye to in April, plus one – his daughter.
"It still hasn't hit me yet, it feels surreal like I'm not really here holding my daughter," says Specialist Jones. "It's an awesome feeling though, I'll definitely remember this for the rest of my life."
"The excitement to see him and to see the first time he holds his daughter is just awesome, it's indescribable," says Robin Jones, Specialist Jones' mother.
Despite the two meeting for the first time meeting face-to-face, he was no stranger to his daughter.
"She had a video of him reading her two stories and she watched it maybe six times a day, so I know she knows his voice, and I think she recognizes him," says Joan Jones, Specialist Jones' wife.
More than half of the soldiers with the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion of the Delaware National Guard have started to return in phases from a tour of duty in Afghanistan as bases begin to shut down. Officials with the National Guard say the rest of the battalion is set to come home in February.
While the group is back home earlier than originally planned, it was not soon enough for Specialist Jones to witness his wife giving birth – in person.
"He saw the entire thing on Skype so it was like he was there, we kept in touch the entire time," says Joan.
"It was very hard, I wanted to be there for her, but unfortunately I couldn't," says Specialist Jones. "I still got to watch the whole thing though, so it was a good experience."
Now that 70 more of the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion are home safe and sound, it's about making up for lost time.
"We're going to have a big dinner and do Christmas and celebrate his birthday," says Loretta Karpin, a mother of one of the returning soldiers. "I've got all his presents wrapped, my tree is still up his presents are still under the tree I told him I wouldn't take it down until he came home."
"He had an agenda of good he would like to eat, so we have food now waiting for him and we're just going to let him relax and do whatever he wants to do," says Robin.
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