Traverse City Military Families Celebrate Holidays in Special Ways

Northern Michigan families reuniting with a loved one serving our country thousands of miles away.

Friday several local military members touched down on home soil for the holidays.

They were met at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City by anxious family and friends.

Friday morning Airman Kasey Fairbanks was met with hugs from family and friends. It’s embraces he has been waiting for since he left in September for training.

“It felt really good you go for so long without seeing any family and friends just your friends that you make down there,” says Airman Fairbanks.            

A return home is special, but to be back in time for the holiday is something he knows is rare, “I have some friends that are still down in Wichita Falls and they weren’t able to go or the means to go.”

While many families during the holiday get the chance to pick up their loved ones and see them face to face, others are anxiously waiting by their computer or phone, to get that special call.

Paula Wentzel has two sons in the air force James in Louisiana and Ryan in Turkey.

She says “Our oldest son, we can talk to him any time just pick up the phone and call him or Skype him or whatever with Ryan it’s a little different but harder being overseas you kind of have to wait for the Skype tone.”

They all haven’t been together during the holidays since 2009. She’s hoping she can at least get a call this weekend.

“We miss them a lot, but we’re proud of what they’re doing it’s just my husband and I now at home with our fur babies so we just celebrate quietly with them,” Wentzel says.

But to hear that other mothers get the chance to welcome their child home brings comfort.

Wentzel says, “I cry because I know how they feel, I know what they’ve gone through and it’s just an amazing feeling when you finally see them after so long and you’re able to hold them and I have some friends who are gold star mothers that don’t have that anymore it’s hard.”