Aviano Airmen return home from fighting war on terrorism

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Williams
  • Det. 8, Air Force News Agency
Aviano Air Base Airmen returned here May 18 to smiles and tears from families and friends as they reunited after being separated for more than four months. 

The Aviano AB community welcomed back several hundred air expeditionary force 5 and 6 Airmen from downrange who were supporting the war on terrorism. 

"It's incredible," said Master Sgt. Richard Verduzco, who returned home to his wife and three children after being gone for almost nine months. "My kids look totally different. My little one has grown up so much, he barely recognizes me. I was prepared for that. I'm just happy to be back. I think I broke down a little bit when I first saw them as I got off the plane. Now I just can't wait to go home and play with the kids."

Sergeant Verduzco's wife, Michelle, is a reservist assigned to Aviano AB where she's played the role of a military member and mother of three while her husband was away. Like so many other families doing the same thing every AEF rotation, she said it can be quite a challenge.

"It's been torture," she said, "but we just buckled down and made it work. Of course now that he's home, we're going to celebrate for a while."

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