Excitement, nerves and anticipation were in the air at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon. Capt. Bryce Papke is back in eastern Idaho for a few days after being deployed in the Army.
“We’re super stoked,” said Chelsea Papke, Bryce Papke’s wife. “It couldn’t have been a more perfect time with today being the Fourth of July.”
Bryce Papke has served in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and more.
“It’s hard because we’re separated, but we are also very passionate about what he does,” Chelsea Papke said. “This is the life we chose to live. We have really great days, and I won’t sugarcoat it, we (have) harder days.”
Bryce Papke will be home for five days, then will head back to Texas to await his next deployment.
“Unfortunately this is nothing new to us. This is quite normal,” Chelsea Papke said.
Thursday’s homecoming means the world to his 8-year-old son, Gunner. He has been so excited that he has been bombarding his mom with questions all day.
“How (many) more hours? When does he get here? I want him here now,” said Gunner. “Just when does he get here?”
Bryce Papke has been serving the United States for most of Gunner’s life. He was even gone the day that Gunner was born.
Friday is Gunner’s birthday. Having his dad home to celebrate is one of the best things he could have ever asked for.
“I want to tell him, ‘Thank you for serving our country,'” Gunner said.
The Papke family said they are lucky that they get to spend this time of year together. They know that is not the case for many families.
“The days can be hard especially when it is a holiday,” Chelsea Papke said. “Just try to stay busy, try to stay positive. Your soldier, whether it be mom, dad, aunt or uncle, they want to know that you’re living a happy life.”