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Deployed soldier returns home to surprise daughters

IN DADDY'S LOVING ARMS AGAIN

Posted: June 20, 2015 - 11:04pm  |  Updated: June 22, 2015 - 12:48pm
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Sgt. Gregory Holloman hugs his two daughters Jocelyn, 5, (left) and Karma, 4, after greeting them at their Grovetown day care on his return from a nine-month tour of duty in Kuwait.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Sgt. Gregory Holloman hugs his two daughters Jocelyn, 5, (left) and Karma, 4, after greeting them at their Grovetown day care on his return from a nine-month tour of duty in Kuwait.

 

U.S. Army Sgt. Gregory Holloman waited more than nine long months deployed in Kuwait to hug his daughters again.

And it took all the restraint he could muster not to flip on the lights and do just that when he returned to his Grovetown home in the early hours of Wednesday. He was holding back to surprise his daughters Jocelyn, 5, and Karma, 4, at their day care center, Learning, Laughter and Love in Grovetown.

“That was the first thing I wanted to do,” Holloman said. “It took a lot not to just go in my own house and wake them. .. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise and wake them.”

Holloman said because of a complication with his flight, he bought his own airline ticket into Atlanta just to get home to his family.

Jocelyn and Karma thought they were going to celebrate Cupcake Day at the day care. The last cake read “Welcome Home” and their father walked in and crept up behind them to get those hugs he waited too long for. He didn’t know if they’d run to him, cry or even be angry and not speak to him.

“I was just thinking I didn’t want to be the first one to cry when I walked in the door,” Holloman said. “I just wanted to see their faces ... and have my family come together.”

Jocelyn immediately grabbed her father’s neck and hugged him tightly. She wouldn’t let go. Holloman squeezed his daughters and shared cupcakes but it seemed they were too excited to eat. They only wanted to climb onto their father’s lap and bury their faces in his neck.

It was Jocelyn who has dealt with her father’s deployment the hardest.

“They are Daddy’s little girls,” Holloman’s wife, Chelsea, said of her daughters. “The past nine months, I’ve dried a lot of tears. It’s very emotional.”

Holloman and his wife are both assigned to the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Gordon. When Karma was only 7 months old and her sister was 19 months old, the Hollomans deployed together for 12 months, leaving the girls with their grandparents.

He said this deployment, though his wife is still with the girls, was more difficult.

“The first time, they were younger, they didn’t quite understand what was going on,” Holloman said. “Now, they have questions about why I’m not there.”

Holloman said he planned to take his daughters home on Wednesday and turn off his cell phone. He had to report to Fort Gordon on Thursday to begin the two-week in-processing.

After that, Holloman’s wife said, he’ll take 30 days leave and the family will celebrate and spend some time at the
beach.

Day care center director Deena Youngblood said she’s gotten used to the military lifestyle and associated hardships, having served such a largely military community for years. But she was honored to be a part of Holloman’s homecoming surprise.

“He has been deployed for what seems like an eternity to them,” Youngblood said, adding that she has a deep appreciation for military personnel and their sacrifices.

“We try to celebrate them as much as we can.”

Holloman still has leave to look forward to, but he’s already gotten his homecoming gift.

“I’m happy to be home with my family,” Holloman said. “To finally be able to hold my kids. ... I’m really blessed right now.”

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