Shirley Daniels stood at the airport's security wall, looked through its window, and then at her watch. "I've got 1:00," she said to a friend. "What time do you have?" Daniels had every reason to be anxious. Her son was about to step off a plane and return home for the first time in two-and-a-half years.
"There he is. There he is," she yelled. So she grabbed her balloons and ran toward the airport security exit.
At 1:11, Sgt. Michael Daniels was back on South Mississippi. Tears rolled down Mom's suddenly glowing eyes. "I feel wonderful to have him back at home," she said while hugging her son.
The youngest of four children was back with his family. "Just glad to be home. Just glad to be home," he said with a smile.
Sgt. Daniels spent the last six months in Iraq -- often firing artillery at insurgents. He described the situation by saying, "There is trouble all around, whether you're on the camp, or on the fire, regardless, just over there is trouble."
The 27 year old never doubted whether he would be in the family photo taken at the airport. "No not at all. Not with the Lord on my side," he said. "I knew I would come back."
The Army sergeant left the airport and headed to a family barbecue. He could finally take off his uniform and unwind. What would he do? "Anything possible. But stay out of trouble," he laughed. "Uncle Sam needs me back."
Daniels returns to Iraq in two weeks. And mom's eyes will once again fill up with tears.