TAMPA, Fla. - United States Navy Capt. Edwin Smith had a longer return trip from deployment than he anticipated.
For the last 14 months, he was in the Middle East, but when he got home, travel restrictions required him to quarantine for two weeks on a base in Virginia, to make sure he was free of symptoms of COVID-19.
Smith finally flew back into Tampa Wednesday morning. His wife, Brittany greeted him at the airport with disinfectant spray, wipes, and a change of clothes.
With social distancing guidelines, Smith thought his return would be somewhat subdued. However, Brittany and her friends rallied neighbors in the Waterset community of Apollo Beach.
They lined the streets, waving flags and holding signs, welcoming him home.
“With all the social distancing and everyone being so far apart, I thought this would be a really great way for people to kind of be together and do something as a community,” said Brittany.
When they pulled into their driveway, Smith’s seven children embraced him the way you’d expect after 14 months apart.
“I’ve experienced those kinds of embraces in the past, but it’s definitely very different,” he said. “I almost felt like an inmate having that level of isolation.”
It was the kind of amazing return Brittany says her husband deserves.
“He does so much for everybody else and never expects anything in return,” Brittany said.
Smith said it was a storybook day and the best return from deployment he’s ever had.
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