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Jill Atwood reportingMembers of the 419th Fighter Wing arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport today.
They were only gone about four months, but small children left behind can change a lot in a short amount of time.
Baby boys have become toddlers and little girls have grown into young ladies.
Major Chris Morgan/419th F-16 Fighter Pilot- "CAN YOU SAY HI...HI THIS IS CAITLIN AND THIS IS LITTLE EMMA..."
Men may seem like big softies today, but just weeks ago they were flying six hour F-16 combat missions over Iraq. They took out tanks, bridges and other military targets.
Major Kevin Jens/419th F-16 Fighter Pilot- "I HAD PEOPLE COMING UP TO ME IN THE AIRPORT AND JUST SAYING THANK-YOU JUST OUT OF THE BLUE I WAS JUST STANDING THERE EATING MY FIRST AMERICAN MEAL MCDONALDS."
Chris Jens/Kevin's Wife "I'M OVERWHELMED I JUST DIDNT THINK I WAS GOING BE THIS WAY HE CAME HOME FROM DESERT STORM AND IT WASN'T THAT BIG OF DEAL BUT WE DIDN'T HAVE KIDS THEN YOU KNOW IT WAS A BIG DEAL BUT THIS WAS MORE TRAUMATIC IT WAS HARDER ON THE KIDS..THEN IT WAS ON ME."
Originally the 419th was deployed to participate in Operation Southern Watch where they patrolled the Iraqi no fly zone. But once there, they had orders to make a quick transition into combat mode.
Major Mark Lance/419th F-16 Fighter Pilot "SEEING THE IRAQI PEOPLE AND SEEING THE IRAQI PEOPLE CLAPPING AND WAVING THE AMERICAN SOLDUERS AND THE FLAG AND THAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST REWARDING BEING A PART OF THAT HISTORY TO HELP THE PEOPLE GAIN THEIR FREEDOM."
For now, there are no big plans to wander far from home. The standing orders as of today require lots of down time.
Chris Jens/Kevin's Wife "HE'S TAKING TWO WEEKS OFF AND WE'RE JUST GOING TO BE A FAMILY AND BUILD A SWINGSET FOR THE KIDS AND HANG AROUND THE HOUSE..AND GET ERIC TO KNOW HIS DAD AGAIN BECAUSE FOUR MONTHS IS A LONG TIME WHEN YOUR ONLY THAT OLD."
Out of the 130 total deployed, only nine members of the 419th Fighter Wing returned today. There’s no word yet on when the rest will return.