Family reunited as father returns from Afghanistan - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family reunited as father returns from Afghanistan

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Four-year-old Grayson Russell is standing in the dining room, holding up a picture. He has been learning to count, and counting the days until his dad comes home from Afghanistan.

"This is daddy when he was deployed," he said, holding up a picture of the family from a year ago.

His wait is almost over. On Tuesday, Sergeant Ben Russell and his unit will land at Waterloo Municipal Airport. Over the past year, his wife and three boys have marked the days till his return in a unique way­- with a jar of M&Ms. For each day, the two older boys, ages six and four, remove one piece of candy.

Today, there are just two left.

His wife is glad to have him home, too.

"There's been a piece missing for the past nine months,"Meghan Russell said. "Now we get to put it back together."

She said priority number one is getting back to normal. So, on his first night home, the family plans to take it easy.

"He just wanted it to be our family and do something simple like watch a movie and order pizza," Meghan Russell said. "We're excited to do the simple stuff with him."

During Sergeant Russell's deployment, the family communicated as much as possible through Facebook and phone calls. But still, things have changed since he has been away. When he left last summer, his youngest son was only six months old.

"Sawyer's first words were ‘dada,' but he was looking at the phone because he was so used to talking to him on the phone," Meghan Russell.

Now Sawyer will finally see him in person again. The family plans to be at the airport early to greet his flight, posters in hand.

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