San Francisco News

Bay Area soldier home for the holidays

Friday, December 23, 2011

Home for the holidays has never had more meaning for a Bay Area family. An Army staff sergeant serving his third tour in the Middle East arrived home Friday night. For his family, it's been a long time coming.

An excited and nervous 26-year-old Yesinia Smith came to SFO with her mother, twin brothers, and stepfather. They were there to greet Yesinia's husband, Staff Sgt. Johnathan Smith, who has been serving in Afghanistan with the Army for the past nine months.

"It's been tough, but I mean, but we have been through it twice before. So we just learn to deal with it and take it day by day," said Yesinia.

Yesinia is used to waiting. She's waited through Johnathan's two previous tours in Iraq where he was wounded, and now nine long months into this tour.

"You become a stronger person. Your relationship becomes stronger. I mean you just have to support each other," said Yesinia.

Her mother, Juanita Fournier, has provided Yesinia emotional support through three tours. She says her daughter shows remarkable character.

"I applaud my daughter very much because she is a very strong woman. She's been through a lot, but she knows what she's doing and she knows she has faith and trust that her husband is coming back to her," said Fournier.

After a tense three-and-a-half-hour flight delay, finally, Johnathan comes through the doors.

The two have known each other since they were 9 years old. They were married at 18, eight years ago. After a long hug, Johnathan told us what else he's longed for.

"First order of business is an In-N-Out burger," said Johnathan.

Smith has come from Afghanistan through Ireland and Dallas in order to reach home. It's a daunting 18-hour transition from battlefield to home. This is his first Christmas home in three years.

"You just kind of got to grasp it. Right now you're kind of numb to the situation, and then slowly as the more civilians you see and the more restaurants and the nicer people are to you, the more you start to... reality hits you that you're here," said Johnathan.

The couple plan a private stay in Napa. As happy as he is, Johnathan says part of him is still back with his squad in Afghanistan.

"I feel I need to be back there to have their back," said Johnathan.

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afghanistan war, san francisco international airport, san francisco news
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