One year and 15 months ago, Jen Woodhouse said 'yes' to then 1st Lt. Adam Henderson's request for her hand in marriage.
The 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion soldier was just 2 hours away from boarding a bus bound for Lawson Army Airfield where a waiting plane would carry him to Iraq.
Wednesday night, about 80 soldiers with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 13th CSSB were supposed to touch down at the Benning airport, but due to sand storms in Kuwait, only about half of them made it. To Woodhouse's relief, Henderson, now a captain, was among them.
"I'm incredulous," Woodhouse said in anticipation of his arrival. "I can't believe it's finally here. I'm a bit overwhelmed."
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Randy Jean was also feeling overwhelmed as she waited anxiously for her husband, Spc. Jason Jean, to deplane Wednesday night. "I'm going out of my mind," said laughed.
The Jeans were married about a month before Jason Jean deployed to Iraq with the HHC. For them, this homecoming marks the beginning of their new life together.
The same can also be said for Woodhouse and Henderson.
In January, about 8 months into the deployment, Henderson came home on leave and the couple were married in a small civil ceremony in Montgomery, Ala. The Nashville-base singer/musician said she's hoping her honey's return will spark an outpouring of creativity that she can use to write her next album. There's certainly enough material for her to draw from.
"The songs are coming," she said. "They're not finished yet. I just have to process all of it, being engaged then married, then being separated. All of that will kind of formulate into the next album I guess, I'm not sure yet. I have to process it before I write about it.
"We weren't planning on getting married until after he got back," she said. "We just couldn't wait.
The same night Woodhouse and Henderson were married, Woodhouse performed at The Loft on Broadway in downtown Columbus. The show was packed with family and friends. "I announced from the stage that today we got married," Woodhouse said, a smile in her voice.
Shortly after that performance, Henderson returned to war and Woodhouse flew to Asia for a 7-month tour. "It was amazing," she said of her trip. "It's such a different world. The east is so different from the west."
It was a bitter sweet time in her life in that she adored traveling and performing abroad, but she hated not being able to share the experience with her husband. Still, she believes the separation strengthened their relationship and taught them how to really communicate and learn to be patient with one-another. "I don't think we'd be as close as we are if we had been sitting in the same room this whole time," Woodhouse said. "Because we had this experience, we're sort of ahead of the curve and we're less likely to take things for granted."
Once reunited with Woodhouse, after they shared a few special minutes together hugging and kissing, Henderson tried to put his emotions into words. "I'm home," he said. "It's home. Home's not the place, it's the people. And, I'm home. I wish I could tell you something that's all full of emotion, but it's just utter peace. I'm home."
The 13th CSSB is an element of the 3rd Sustainment Brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga. The unit is comprised of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the 104th Transportation, and the 598th Maintenance Company.
Those members of the HHC who stayed behind in Kuwait, should rejoin their loved ones within the next few days.
Please read Friday's Ledger-Enquirer for more sights, sounds and stories from the HHC's homecoming.