Reunited and It Feels So Good: Local Soldier Returns Home from Deployment
There is nothing more satisfying than to witness the face of a child light up with pure joy and excitement. For three young children, March 9, 2023, brought an abundance of both. Specialist Damien Seals of the United States Army has been deployed since Sept. 11, 2022. Being away from his children, Ava- age three, Aiden- age five, and Alexander-age seven and his devoted wife Courtney for 179 days has been one of the hardest things this family has had to endure. Courtney Seals, wife of Specialist Damien Seals, shared that her husband joined the Army in November 2022 and was supposed to have been deployed until June/July of this year but due to some health concerns of her own, Specialist Seals was able to return home a little sooner than originally planned. Mrs. Seals stated, "Now that my husband is home, I am most looking forward to us being a family again and purchasing our first home together so that everyone has their own space to be themselves."
After being reunited with his wife, it was time to go to each of his children's schools and surprise them. It was a moment that Specialist Seals has looked forward to for many months. The first stop was their oldest son Alexander's school. Waiting in the front office of Summit Elementary School, Specialist Seals hid while his son walked through the door and his wife said, "I have a surprise for you!" It was at that moment that Alexander's face became overrun with a flood of emotions. The young 7-year-old took off running to the warm embrace of his father's arms and the tears began to flow. It was truly a moment full of pure raw emotion and a demonstration of just how strong love can be between a father and a son. Mrs. Seals stated, "the love he (Alexander) has for his father is simply unreal, and he has taken his absence during this deployment the hardest."
The next stop was Boyd County's Early Childhood Learning Center to surprise Ava and Aiden. While waiting for his children to come out of the gym, Specialist Seals shared that being back was "so relieving. Something that could not be put into words. I just feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Being back with my family has been on my mind constantly since leaving. I am just so excited to be back and to be standing here in this spot." Specialist Seals went on to add, "I am just ready to get back to normal and to be able to love my family. It's been really hard to not be around them."
As Specialist Seals waited for his children to come out of the gym doors, you could just feel his excitement and the excitement of all those present to celebrate this tender touching moment with him and his family. As the doors swung open, it was Ava who first saw her daddy and took off running with her brother Aiden not far behind. Ava squealed with excitement as she ran to her father, "DADDY!!! I LOVES YOU, DADDY!!!" Specialist Seals scooped both his children into his arms for the first time since Sept. 11, 2022. The children were simply elated with the return of their father. Little Ava then ran to her mother and wrapped her tiny arms around her leg saying, "Yea! Mommy, it's Daddy!"
I sat down with each of the children and asked them how it felt to finally have their daddy back home and what they were looking forward to the most. I first asked Ava, who was simply speechless that her daddy was finally home and grinned from ear to ear as she squeezed Specialist Seals' neck. Aiden said he was just so happy that his daddy was finally home and was looking forward to making food with his father. His favorite food of all is his father's famous mac-n-cheese. Alexander stated that it just felt so good to finally have him home and that he was looking forward to spending time with his daddy and doing all the things. Both Specialist Seals and his wife wanted to say thank you to both of their children's schools. "Both of the kid's schools have been so amazing during the time that he (Specialist Seals) has been away. I truly appreciate all that they have done for them and for this homecoming. It was bittersweet to be able to see my children's faces as they saw their father's because they have had a really hard time with him being gone." stated Mrs. Seals.