Oregon soldier returns home, holds baby son for 1st time - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Oregon soldier returns home, holds baby son for 1st time

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We first introduced you to the Pennington family from Oregon last year.

In the fall while deployed in Afghanistan, Private First Class Andrew Pennington was able to be in the delivery room for the birth of his son Stephan thanks to a computer and Skype.

On Friday Pfc. Pennington returned home to Northwest Ohio.

13abc's Christine Long was in Mansfield at the Lahm Air National Guard base for the soldier's heartwarming homecoming.

Pennington is going right from active duty to diaper duty.

We were with his family when he held his son for the first time.

Three-month-old Stephan was wearing a shirt that says, "I've been waiting my whole life to meet you."

160 soldiers walked into the hangar at the Lahm Air National Guard Base to a big welcome home, including Private First Class Andrew Pennington.

The 1486th Transportation Company has been serving in Afghanistan since last March.

For these soldiers, a lot has changed in the ten months they've been overseas.

"Oh, I prayed every day for his safety," says Brenda Pennington, Andrew's mom. "I'm so thankful to God that he came safe."

"I just couldn't wait for him to see his son for the first time," says Brenda. "That was what I was so excited about what for him to see his son because he just had to watch the birth on the lap top so he actually gets to hold him now."

"I've seen him on the computer and stuff and my wife Nichole has talked about him all the time, but it's really nice to finally meet him," says Andrew.

While holding Stephan, Andrew asks his four-year-old daughter Kylie, "Who's this guy, huh?"

Kylie says, "Stephan."

Andrew tells Kylie, "Hey guess what, we're going home today. Ya, you want to go home?"

"It feels amazing," says Nichole Pennington, Andrew's wife. "We feel whole again and I'm just so glad he's home."

Kylie tells her dad about Stephan: "He's ticklish. On his feet."

"Nichole had a lot of responsibilities while I was gone. She had a lot of weight on her shoulders, but she got through it and she did a really nice job," says Andrew.

The Penningtons were one of hundreds of reunions and first meetings.

"Diaper duty," Andrew laughs. He says to Kylie, "You want to change diapers? Alright, we'll do it. No that's not a big deal. That's easy stuff. That's fun stuff. It's a blessing to have children like these two."

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