It was a hug that Sean and Lindsay Stephenson had been waiting almost a year for.
Army Sgt. Sean Stephenson of Harrisonburg hadn't seen his wife or the rest of his family since last April, when he was deployed to Iraq. But that all changed early Wednesday morning.
Sean was one of close to 300 U.S. soldiers who arrived at Baltimore/Washington International Airport Wednesday for a two-week leave. And waiting for Stephenson was his wife and other members of his family.
"It feels so good to have him home," said Lindsay, after greeting her husband with a long hug. "It's probably the best Christmas present I could ever have."
"We feel really great," said Rich Stephenson, Sean's father. "I'm glad to have him here, and we're going to have a lot of, it's going to be a really exciting two weeks."
"We're all really excited, and it's extra special because it's Christmas-time," said Sean's stepmother, Angie, as she draped her arm around Sean's younger brother Jordan. "And I know the rest of our family is really excited too."
Sean's mother, Ann Stephenson, wasn't able to make the trip to BWI Wednesday morning. But she was waiting when he arrived in Harrisonburg.
"He looks good. I was surprised," Ann laughed. "I thought he'd be a lot thinner. But he looks very good."
"It feels great to be home, to be in a warm home, to be out of Baghdad for a while," said Sean after arriving in Harrisonburg.
Now Sean has to figure out how to spend his two-week leave. And that's no easy task, with so many options.
"We've got to get around to see some family, see his grandmother, who's at the Bridgewater retirement home," said his father.
"Play, maybe race," added Jordan.
"We're going to try to spend as much time together as we can, before he goes back," added Ann. "Just not to let go of him."
Sean is scheduled to report back for active duty Jan. 2.