National Guard troops return from Afghanistan, solider meets baby daughter for first time

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Marching through a crowd of cheering family members, more than 100 men and women with the Florida National Guard made their way home after serving overseas in Afghanistan for months.

Whistles, signs and a sea of red, white and blue greeted the soldiers from the 806th Military Police Company outside the Fort Pierce Armory off of Delaware Avenue.

It was a time for troops to unload, reunite with family and embraced their loved ones.

But for one Royal Palm Beach family, this homecoming was extra special.

Mariel Mairs waited nearly a year to see her husband march into her arms.

When her husband Commander Owayne Mairs left for Afghanistan, she gave birth to their daughter Natalie.

At four months old, the little girl has never met her father.

That all changed on Friday.

As the sun set, little Natalie Mairs felt the warm embrace of her father, Commander Mairs.    

"It's surreal. It might sink in later on, but right now it's just exciting," said Commander Mairs.

Not seeing his daughter born is a sacrifice Commander Mairs said he was willing to take.

While he would have given anything to see his baby girl being brought into the world, he stuck to his promise.

It is a promise to a service he said that ensures other families in the country can have that moment of new life in peace.

Mariel Mairs agrees and is proud of her husband and the sacrifices he makes.

After shaking the hands of his fellow guardsmen, Commander Mairs sets off down I-95.

His family has grown in his absence and he has a lot of catching up to do.

"Looking forward to getting home, catching up on all the dirty diapers that might have missed. Just getting back into the groove of things," said Commander Mairs.

The Florida National Guard said this could be the last deployment for the men and women of the 806 with active troops withdraws underway in Afghanistan.

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