CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For more than six months, Captain Melanie Gates and Major Roger Gates have been deployed overseas, serving in the United States Air force.
Their two kids, Naima and Lee, have lived with Melanie's parents in Fort Mill.
"God gave us strength every day, and the kids were amazing," said Charlene Blaschke, Melanie's mom.
Grandma's (and Grandpa's) house has been a blast, but the time has come for Melanie and Roger to return home and resume their role as parents. The kids have never gone this long without a hug or kiss from Mom and Dad.
"I'm going to give them a huge, humongous hug," exclaimed Naima.
"I think we're going to Dave & Buster's again," Lee hoped.
No matter what they end up doing, the family was beyond ready to welcome their heroes home.
Melanie has spent the last seven-and-a-half months serving as an emergency medicine physician in West Africa.
"My mom has been curing and helping people," said Nyeema.
Roger is a C-17 pilot. He spent six months in South Korea.
"It's been a long haul," said Bob Blaschke, Melanie's dad. "We've prayed for them daily and the Lord has been good to us."
After an eight-hour flight delay, Roger and Melanie finally arrived in the Queen City. Naima shrieked when she saw her parents ride the escalator down to baggage claim. Lee jumped into his mother's arms.
"It was good doing the mission we were doing and being able to serve, but I'm glad to be back with family," said Melanie.
As for Lee's wish it sounded like it was going to come true.
"We're probably going to go Dave & Buster's because Lee thinks that's the best place on earth, and then we'll slowly rebuild our lives after deployment," said Roger.
Naima and Lee couldn't contain their excitement as their parents were finally home, right in time for the holidays.