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With every deployment, airmen are faced with the battles of separation and distance from their loved ones while they’re serving their country, often thousands of miles away. But with every bittersweet goodbye, come momentous homecomings.

Last week, Hurlburt Field held another Operation Homecoming, where families and friends of servicemembers of the nation’s busiest air base gather to await being reunited at the Deployment Control Center on Hurlburt Field, outside Fort Walton Beach. Joyful family members gathered outside the squadron eagerly waiting for their friends and loved ones to de-board the aircraft and join them in celebration.

Operation Homecoming is a program created to welcome home airmen returning from a recent deployment. The squadron is the largest of nine flying squadrons within the 1st Special Operations Wing, the host wing at Hurlburt Field. The unit employs the AC-130U Spooky gunship.

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Senior Airman Ryan Johnson, a communications navigator journeyman with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, greets his children during Operation Homecoming at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Meagan Schutter)

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Staff Sgt. Michael Mayo, a communications navigator craftsman with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, holds his newborn for the first time during Operation Homecoming at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Meagan Schutter)

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Maj. Aaron Mcneill with the 4th Special Operations Squadron hugs his daughter during Operation Homecoming at Hurlburt Field, Fla.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Meagan Schutter)

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Senior Airman Saxton Wireman, an aerospace propulsion journeyman with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, hugs his wife during Operation Homecoming at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Meagan Schutter)

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Tech Sgt. Corey Poley, a communications navigator craftsman with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, holds his sleeping son during Operation Homecoming at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Meagan Schutter)

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