KBZK: Red Horse Unit Returns from Deployment

Family and friends gathered at Malmstrom Air Force Base Friday to welcome home the last returning airmen of the 819th RED HORSE unit.

Around 70 airmen returned to Great Falls after being deployed to the Middle East for around six months.

"They've been in Jordan, they've been in Afghanistan, they've been in Iraq, in fact they were there in the Mosul area making preparations for the offensive here as we're working to eradicate ISIS; so this unit right here in Montana is tied directly to what's going on as we're combating terrorism around the world and could not be more proud of them," said U.S. Senator Steve Daines.

Family members of one airman returning home say it has been too long since seeing their husband and father.

"My husband is a big part of our lives, with volunteering with soccer coach and stuff, and so it has been really hard since he's been gone but he's back now," said Moses, Micayla, Mario, and Maria Roque after welcoming home father Mario.

Another airman says Friday was the first time he was able to lay eyes on his newborn daughter in person.

He says little Ayva Gomes was born on his birthday while he was away on deployment.

"You, you want to cry but you gotta hold it together ... I'm speechless, honestly, it's just really great to meet her, I've been looking at her for four months through a screen, so it's amazing," said Phillip Gomes after embracing wife Angelette and daughter Ayva.

The Gomes family was able to surprise the rest of their children, Eli and Aamylah, on Friday.

And since May is celebrated as National Military Appreciation Month, Lewis & Clark Elementary School hosted a surprise homecoming assembly for returning airmen.

Staff Sergeant Dennis Gabbert was also able to surprise his three sons, Brody, Mason, and Shaun during the assembly.

Students also watched a patriotic video before singing the national anthem. Students with parents who had served or are currently serving in the military were also recognized. 

By:  Keeley Van Middendorp
Source: KBZK