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Annalise Jannetta eagerly waited for the doors to Fort Knox’s Natcher Physical Fitness Center to open Thursday, and for her husband, Mark, to enter.
With family and friends of nearly 120 soldiers of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division gathered to welcome the soldiers home from deployment in Afghanistan. Another 120 soldiers returned Friday evening.
Jannetta said she was excited to see him again after his first deployment.
“I feel like it’s my wedding day,” she said. “I can’t stop smiling.”
The couple decided not to bring their two young daughters to greet their father, but opted to surprise the children.
Annalise kept a countdown calendar for Mark’s return – marked for the end of February — but a special game of hide-and-seek would reveal his early return Thursday night.
“It will be more personal,” said Mark, an Englishman who became a U.S. citizen three years ago and joined the Army two years ago for a challenge, his wife said.
“I told (the children) I was going out to a party with my friends,” Annalise said.
Annalise admitted the decision was somewhat selfish because she wanted to spend time with her husband.
“I feel special he wanted to have this moment with me,” she said. “Hopefully he’s not too jetlagged.”
Paige Moody awaited the arrival of her husband, Staff Sgt. Bill Moody, from his second deployment with the unit. She said although this deployment was shorter in length – a little more than eight months – she went longer before seeing him. In the last deployment, he was able to come home in the middle of it.
“I’m excited and relieved it’s almost over,” she said. “I’m not having to worry anymore.”
To keep herself occupied, Paige said she engrossed herself in her business.
“I stay crazy busy,” she said. “It goes by a lot faster. I realize stressing out (about him being in harm’s way) doesn’t do him or me any good. I try not to worry about it.”
But the couple will have little time to celebrate Bill’s return as they prep for another move – this time to Germany — but they will have time to go out of town for a long weekend.
“We’re basically getting into prep mode for our (move) to Germany,” she said.
Annalise, also born in England like her husband, said the event was “surreal” because of all the pride she felt in the gym.
“Americans are very good at that,” she said.
Soldiers have been returning in small groups for the last few months and will continue to through May with the majority of the brigade returning before March, according to a Fort Knox news release.
Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.