Moon-based reservists return to joyous welcome home Saturday
For Army Reserve 1st Lt. Heather Pisciotti, a reunion with three of her children couldn't wait even one more second Saturday.
As 120 members of the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command stood outside Moon Area High School for a welcome home ceremony, Pisciotti, 46, of North Huntingdon, dashed from the unit and flung herself into the arms of children Anthony, 13, Daniel, 11, and Aurora, 9.
“How can you separate yourself from your kids?” Pisciotti said.
Members of the unit had been ordered to join their families after a ceremony celebrating the end of an assignment that began with training in spring 2012 and a July deployment to Kuwait.
The 316th, based in Moon, provides food, fuel, ammunition, water, transportation, maintenance and soldier services in the Middle East.
Hundreds of family and friends cheered and waved flags as the reservists stood at attention on the high school auditorium stage, receiving praise from their commander, Brig. Gen. Bud R. Jameson Jr., for their efforts in Kuwait and throughout the Middle East.
“It is important we let these soldiers know how much we care about them,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.
At the end of the ceremony, the reservists reunited with loved ones and friends inside the school gymnasium with a flurry of tearful hugs, handshakes, kisses and many “I love yous” and “I missed you.”
“Coming home's the best birthday present ever,” said Spc. Michael Thompson, of North Huntingdon, who turns 23 on Wednesday. “That, and a beer.”
William White, 19 months old, applauded as troops filed past on their way into the high school auditorium. As his father, Maj. Brian T. White walked past and said, “Hey, buddy!” the boy's mouth fell agape and he stared at the father he hadn't seen for more than nine months.
Though it was his third deployment, White, 40, of Moon said this one was the toughest, because it was his first as a father.
“I missed so much,” White said. His wife, Kellie White, 35, videotaped their son's first steps and first birthday party.
“It's the milestones,” Kellie White said, adding that the family would together pick out an Easter basket for William, since his father missed Christmas shopping.
Kellie White's friend, Jackie Beaman, 32, of Moon, said her three children with Staff Sgt. Chris Beaman, 35, kept her mind occupied. Chris Beaman sent one gift a week from Amazon.com to his wife and children to mark the countdown to his homecoming.
Despite his earlier promise not to, Daniel Pisciotti, sporting his mother's fatigues cap and backpack, wept as she hugged each of her children, marveling that Anthony had grown at least two inches since she last saw him, surpassing her in height.
“He was as tall as me. Look what happened!” she said.
The children said they were able to talk to their mother by phone and Skype, but the physical distance was hard to bear. Anthony said he missed his mother's “Breakfast of Champions,” a combination of buttered noodles and eggs.
“This is the second deployment in five years,” Pisciotti said. “It's just too much.”
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.