The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Welcome Home SFC Jackson And Gatekeepers

by Shana Jackson, The Quill

On October 24 my journey to Ft. Riley, Kansas began at 4:50 a.m with my mom Kay Olson, and my daughter, Kayla.

I was told that the guys would be coming in around 2-3 p.m. so I wanted to get there in plenty of time to check into the hotel and get cleaned up.

We arrived in Ft. Riley around noon and found our hotel.  As we went to check in, we were told that they only had 1 of the 2 rooms that we reserved for the 24-27 available for all the nights and that they had no openings to fix the reservation, plus the rooms wouldn't be ready for an hour.

Needless to say, we left and was on the search for a new hotel. Kansas State was having their homecoming as well as 177 soldiers flying back in. The next hotel could only get us in for one night but they called the hotel behind them and was able to get us in there. So all was well. 

By this time it was 1:00 p.m. Thinking I only had an hour to get ready we hurried and got checked in. Then I received a call from Gary that they had just landed in Maine. Yeah!

They were finally in the states, but wouldn't make it to Ft. Riley by 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. So, mom and Kayla and I went on into Manhattan to the mall to fill our time.

Thinking that the guys would be flying into Topeka by 4:00 with an hour bus ride on down to Riley, we left the mall at 4:00 to head back.

It's 5:00 p.m. and no word from them. As you can see military life consists of "Hurry Up and Wait."

Around 8:00 p.m., my mom, Kayla and I went to hang out with the other wives, children, and a father-in-law.

We finally got word on what time we could leave to go pick them up.

We anxiously convoyed to post at 9:45 p.m to see our loved ones.

What a feeling it was to cross the bridge and see all the soldiers standing in the parking lot with their luggage and waiting on us.

We got our vehicles parked and it was then time for lots of hugs and introductions and pictures. 

Now, close to midnight, we all headed back to our rooms.  What a relief it was to have our husbands back in our arms.

October 25, the guys had to report back in at 12:30 p.m for a few hours of "out processing." Then at 5:00 p.m. there was a welcoming ceremony not only for Gary's team, but for the 177 soldiers that came in on Saturday. 

This lasted for 15 minutes and then it was back to the hotel to get cleaned up and head to Famous Daves in Manhattan for supper with the team and their families. 

What a great group of people!

Oct. 26, Gary had to report in by 4:30 a.m. for more "out processing."

After finishing his day up around 1:30 p.m., we headed to Wamego to the Wizard of Oz Museum, where I was totally in Oz heaven. 

After the tour and shopping in the store, we headed to Gary's cousins for a short visit and to the mall in Manhattan for a little shopping.

Then it was to the hotel for a night of relaxation in the hot tub with one of the other couples.

Oct. 27, Gary had to report in by 6:30 a.m. to finish up on the "out processing."

He finished at 2:30 p.m. and we had to check out of the hotel we had been staying in and find a new one. With them getting in late Saturday nigh, it threw us into having to stay another day before heading home and our hotel was already booked up for that extra night. 

After getting settled, we headed to Manhattan to Chili's for one last supper out with the team and their families. It was then time to say goodbye to the friends we were just getting to know and move on with our daily routines.

October 28, Gary had to be in by 6:30 a.m. to sign out on leave. So we all got up and rode in with him so that we could head out for Illinois as soon as we could.

This was the start of our journey home to all sorts of surprises that we had in store for Gary. But getting to leave over an hour early it was throwing some curve balls into our plans. 

Turn in next week for the conclusion.