Tech Sgt. Dearlyn Gary had never held his youngest son.
Gary got his orders to deploy with the Kansas Air National Guard eight months ago.
"I said I was pregnant and he said, 'I'm shipping out,' " Tameka Gary said.
Monday, Tameka Gary held 4-month-old Markhai and kept an eye on her older son, Jaylen, 2, as they waited at McConnell Air Force Base for the return of husband and father among 43 members of the 184th Intelligence Wing Security Forces.
Intelligence and security is the latest mission of the Kansas Air National Guard, which has provided a variety of service support since 1941, including fighter squadrons, bomber wings and air refueling.
On their latest deployment, the troops had been guarding facilities and people in Saudi Arabia since April.
Markhai Gary was born in July.
Tameka Gary had expected her husband to be flown back for the birth of his son. But one of his buddies lost a brother, and only so many people could be spared.
"So he gave his place to his friend to return home," Tameka said.
"Other than pictures, e-mails and Skype (Internet phone), he hasn't seen him," she said of her husband and their baby.
As the men and women walked into Building 36 at McConnell, families stood on chairs, held welcome signs, screamed and applauded.
"I finally get to see him," Kassandra Gonzalez, 16, said as she waited with her four sisters for the return of their father, Tech. Sgt. Guadalupe Gonzalez.
"We try to e-mail but he can't respond very often, and we've gotten to see him on Web chats maybe three or four times," she said.
They waited longer than they expected for the return of their loved ones, after the weather slowed the flights home.
The families watched a satellite image of the transport plane, projected on several television screens around the room.
The cloudy skies, chilly winds and snow flurries that had some Kansans shivering Monday were a welcome sight for some of the troops.
"We didn't see rain for six months," said Maj. Joe Dessenberger, commander of 18th. "It was 100 degrees at night. It didn't break. I love this."
"They're definitely not in Saudi anymore," Vice Wing Commander Chip Mattingly told the crowd. "I think that wind woke them up."
Dessenberger said all the time in the Middle East had earned him leave until after the holidays.
Kassandra Gonzalez hugged her father, and so did her sisters, who also handed him cell phones to talk to other friends and family.
Dearlyn Gary was greeted by his wife, who handed him their 2-year-old. He clenched the toddler close to him and walked through the crowd, where his mother held out the baby he'd never touched.
Gary smiled and, not saying a word, took the baby in his muscular arms.
And he gently kissed the boy on the forehead.