Fay Yee stood in the stands at Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field, her eyes red and puffy from crying.
She held a sign: “Welcome home Jeremy and Melissa.”
Yee had never met the woman next to her, but the sign the woman held was nearly identical to Yee’s: “Welcome home Melissa and Jeremy.”
By the time the women realized they were there to welcome the same soldiers, their tear-streaked faces were the same shade as the crimson carnations Yee carried.
“She saw the sign and my Ohio jacket, and she just knew,” Yee said, pointing to her new-found friend Debbie Moxley.
“We could not have written or scripted this any better,” Moxley said.
It turned out that both women, who knew of each other in name only, had traveled hundreds of miles — Yee from Ohio and Moxley from Kentucky — to welcome their son and daughter home.
“We knew who each other was because they [our children] got married,” Moxley said, “but we never spoke, and I assumed that she was not coming. But I just saw a glance of the sign … and what a coincidence, what’s the odds?”
Moxley’s daughter, Spc. Melissa Yee, married Yee’s son, Spc. Jeremy Yee, a month before they both deployed to Iraq in November 2007.
The new Yees and 77 other troops with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 24th Financial Management Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, returned home Wednesday afternoon, after serving 15 months in Baghdad and central Iraq.
Yee wanted to surprise her son so she showed up without telling anyone.
“He had no idea I was coming,” she said.
Col. Terry Ferrell, the division’s chief of staff, welcomed the soldiers home. Before he released the troops from formation Yee and Moxley were anxious to run onto the field.
“I want to run out there and grab him in my arms,” Yee said.
When the singing of “The Army Song” was complete, both women ambushed their children in a blitz of hugs and kisses.
After the tears dried and kisses had been given, everyone was still excited.
“It makes what you do every day more valuable to you,” Melissa said. “It is definitely worth it.”