Soldiers reunited with loved ones after 10-month deployment
Curtis Magdaleno and his wife, Evette, were practically inseparable Sunday night inside Tampa International airport.
Their gaze rarely fell anywhere else, but on each other. And when it did stray, they found each other again, grinning.
Curtis Magdaleno, a Staff Sgt., was one of seven members of the Florida Army National Guard’s 856th Quartermaster Support Company who flew into Tampa Sunday night following a 10-month deployment in Afghanistan. In all, the unit had 40 members return to Florida at airports across the state.
“It’s great (to be back home),” said Magdaleno, 45, who lives in Seminole. “You don’t realize the freedom we have here. Stuff we can get whenever, you can just go out. … Everything is so different. I’m happy to see some greenery now.”
Others returned to Florida airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando.
Thanks to technology, Evette Magdaleno said she felt as though her husband was home emotionally despite the vast distance between the two physically.
“It’s been exciting,” she said. “I’ve been preparing for about three weeks now.
“I felt like he was at home. He wasn’t far. We talked every chance we got; email, Skype, phone calls.”
Curtis Magdaleno, who is originally from Belize, said he put in a request to his wife for food that reminded him of his old home.
“I told my wife to have my special meal waiting for me,” Magdaleno said laughing. “Oxtail, rice and beans, tamales.”
Staff Sgt. Frank Briguccia was surrounded Sunday night near TIA’s F Terminal by his mother, fiancé and their daughter, Chaya. He also got to hold his newborn son, Frank Briguccia Jr., for the first time.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” he said. “I had a lot of time to prepare for it, so I was kind of expecting (the excitement).”
His fiancé, Alicia Winkler, watched as he held their son in a carrier.
“I’m not sure if words can describe it,” she said looking at both.
Briguccia’s mother, Julie Komorowski, took everything in and was hopeful this would be the last time she’d have to great her son at the airport.
“I can’t even describe it,” she said, smiling. “It’s the best feeling to know that he’s home safe. This is his second time going over seas so (having him home), it’s great. Hopefully he won’t be going back.”
Review: Kenny Chesney goes big all night in Trip Around the Sun Tour opener at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium