Valdosta Daily Times

October 9, 2013

Moody welcomes back A-10s, pilots

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — With hundreds of Lowndes High Georgia Bridgemen joining friends, family, wives and children, Moody Air Force Base welcomed back 11 A-10s and their pilots Tuesday afternoon. The A-10s and their pilots are part of the 74th Fighter Squadron which provides air-to-ground support to soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.

Coming off of a six month deployment to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the returning pilots are the first of 350-400 airmen coming back this week.

Pilots like Lt. Col. Dave Hawarth, who was reunited with his wife, Kathy, and his son, Christopher, on Tuesday.

“You dream about that,” said Hawarth. “Not just when you're gone, but all the time. To serve your country and then return to your family...it's a remarkable feeling. I wish everyone could experience it.”

It's a feeling that motivates Hawarth daily. He sees it as his job to ensure that other service men and women return from duty and have their chance to see their own Kathy's and Christopher's.

“We want to make moments like this happen all the time...That's why we go over there.”

“It's not easy,” said Hawarth's wife, Kathy. “It's an extra level of stress.”

Like a lot of military spouses, she finds support from local spouse groups and from the technology that lets the family stay in touch. That's how she heard that Dave was heading back, from a text message she received early Tuesday morning.

And for Christopher, after a spring and summer of his dad being gone, he's just happy to see him back.

“We're going to Universal Studios,” said Christopher.

“I didn't know that,” laughed Dave. “We have a lot of catching up to do.”