16 Heartwarming Photos Of Troops Reuniting With Their Families

As the United States closes the door on more than a decade of war and a period of remarkably high operational tempo, the burden shouldered by the troops has been well documented. But for every unit leaving for war, every casket that comes home, there’s a family tethered to the fate of that soldier, airman, sailor, or Marine.

Deployments are taxing, they are long, and they are often repetitive. But eventually, they are over, and troops get to reunite with the ones they love.

We compiled some of the shots from military photographers and professional journalists alike that best capture the feeling of love and warmth when troops get to see their families again.

Service members leave behind everything when they deploy.

Their wives.

Their children.

It's nothing new. Here was the scene in 1973 when Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm was released after spending 5 and a half years in a POW camp in Vietnam.

Nearly 40 years later, same emotions.

The result is a moment that crosses all barriers. This photo, taken just five months after the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' instantly become an iconic shot.

Many servicemembers are gone for as long as a year. Like in the case of this sergeant in the Arkansas Army National Guard who spent a year in Iraq.

Everyone waits the whole deployment for that moment.

And then the day comes, and the families go to the base. The waiting begins.

Sometimes units don't come back until the dead of night.

People make signs, but those aren't what the troops look forward to.

The families get dressed up.

'Well, this is awkward...'

Families can change while you're gone. This sailor missed his daughter's birth.

Sometimes you can make it back before the big changes.

No matter what, it all makes for some pretty incredible moments, and reminds you what's important.

Now explore some other emotions associated with war.

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