ALBANY, N.Y. – Dozens of Citizen Airmen returned to New York on Saturday afternoon.
Around 2 p.m. at the Albany International Airport, about a dozen of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing were welcomed by their families.
Sgt. Mike Rogers, 54, felt blessed to return to a big welcome from his family, and meet his granddaughter for the first time. The entire Rogers family was giddy with excitement, waiting for the arrival of their patriarch, returning from a six month deployment in Afghanistan.
His wife, Nancy Rogers, could barely take the anticipation; his grandchildren were ready too. As Sgt. Rogers made his way to the welcoming party, he went right for the granddaughter he has never met because she was born just after he left for duty.
"It's kind of breath taking you know. Very beautiful little girl," said Rogers.
Sgt. Rogers is in charge of getting everyone in the 109th Airlift Wing home.
"We're just very proud of him and we're so very glad that he's coming home and everybody that's come home and we're praying for everybody to come home," said Jamie Williams, his sister.
Sgt. Rogers, for the first time in his 20 year military career, was also in charge of getting home those who don't make it out alive.
"The ones that don't make it we do, there's a ceremony that is done to send them back and make sure that they get home. It kind of brings a lot to life that you see what happens to these guys," explained Rogers. "It is really difficult because especially when you know you made it and some didn't and quite a few that didn't. The whole base is pretty much a memorial to the ones that don't make it so you're reminded of it every day."
Sgt. Rogers said that although his job was extremely difficult, he would do it again to honor those who don't return home like the men and women of the 109th Airlift Wing did on Saturday.