Home for Christmas

Kyle and Kellie Locke are like many new parents. They're spoiling their firstborn. It is something Kyle has been waiting a long time to do. Kyle said, "It was a hard seven months waiting to come home to her."

Kyle's wait really began earlier. He was in training when he learned that Kellie was expecting. "My battery here is the 1st of the 133rd Field Artillery in Nacogdoches and Lufkin." Kyle got a leave to come home for baby Shannon's birth, but just a few days afterwards, he had to quickly return to Iraq. Even though Kellie was still recuperating, she insisted on family portraits. "Just the fear of what, 'Is he coming home?, Is she going to have a dad?,' when all this is said and done. But she does, and he's home, and we're happy," explained Kellie.

Someday the parents want their baby girl to understand the bravery of not just her dad, but the others who served beside him. "I think we did a really good job. We all came home, which is the most important thing. All of our guys did great," said Kyle.

Kyle no longer carries a gun. He now holds a new baby. "It was very tough, not feeling like a dad really right off the bat. Because I hadn't had any time with her, it was tough to get used to having her there all the time," admitted the new dad.

Despite the awkwardness, Kellie recognized a bond right away. Kellie recalled the homecoming. "She said, 'Daddy.' She had been saying 'Daddy' to his picture, and to realize that she saw a 3-D Daddy, it was nice. And she went right to him, and it was like he never left her."

Kyle isn't planning to go away anytime soon. He's served his year of service. He'll be enrolling at SFA to finish out his degree plan. Undoubtedly, this baby's first Christmas will be one her parents will never forget.