JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An airman returned home Monday after spending half a year overseas fighting for our country. His family traveled from Orlando to meet him at the airport in Jacksonville.
"Tears and sorrow when he left, now I have tears of joy that he's home and he's safe on U.S. soil," said Carol Lemerond, Mark Lemerond's mother.
Mark Lemerond is a Senior Airman in the Air Force. He's a mechanic who repairs and maintains flight equipment. He's been away from family and friends for six months on a deployment in Afghanistan.
On Monday, his mom and girlfriend held signs at the airport to welcome him back home.
Lemerond has spent seven years in the Air Force and this is the end of his third deployment. His mom said she is proud of her son and the sacrifices he makes, but admitted she was worried at times.
"We had communication over the time that he was gone, and in some instances he was not safe and I can hear the stress in his voice," Carol said.
"Everybody back home keeps me motivated and also to be a part of something bigger than myself," Mark said.
Now Mark is back home with his family. His mom said it will take some time for him to decompress and get back to a civilian routine.
"He's wound up with the military mantra, routine, roles and responsibilities," she said.
Now that he's back, his mom plans to "hug him, touch him, hold him, squeeze him."
"I'm going to get a shower and get some food," Mark said. "That's all I want right now."
After some rest and relaxation, the family plans to take Mark on a vacation.