Most fathers get to meet their child for the first time in a hospital. But for one local marine he met his son for the first at an airport.
A marine returned from his deployment to finally meet his unborn son. Corporal Hank Parker was at sea for more than six months.
Thursday morning, they anxiously waited at the airport with signs in hand counting down each minute until the emotional reunion. While Marine Corporal Hank Parker was deployed to the Persian Gulf protecting lives, a new life at home was born.
"Not until you actually see him and meet him do you realize, ‘wow, that's real I have a real son you know?" Hank Parker said.
Parker was there by phone in the delivery room when his son was born, but nothing beats this moment.
"I got to FaceTime and do things like that but you just sit there and think about every moment wait to get home and see everybody,” Parker said.
Now the wait is over, and his wife Mary Parker said she's thankful to have her other half back home.
"I was just thinking about how skinnier he looks, he worked out a lot on the ship. I was just thinking gosh he looks so different FaceTime doesn't convey that as much he just looks so happy to be here,” Mary Parker said.
Over the last seven months, Parker traveled to Pearl Harbor and biked the mountains of Borneo, Malaysia, but nothing compares to the sight of the Tennessee valley.
"On the plane ride here I just started tearing up in the airplane as soon as we saw Lake Winnie Lookout Mountain I was just like I’m almost home,” Parker described.
When Parker walked through the gates at security he embraced his family and told his daughter ‘I love you.’ Three words that mean so much on paper or on the phone, mean more in person than the Parker family could have imagined.
Corporal Hank Parker is from Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The family is spending the next few days at home before traveling to Camp Pendleton in San Diego.