HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Florence soldier Sergeant Shaun Apger returned home from his 4th deployment in Afghanistan Wednesday at Huntsville International Airport.
His flight was delayed for more than an hour but Apger says it was worth it to meet someone very special for the first time.
"No matter what I've gone through before, it's been the hardest thing I've ever done," admits Apger.
The Army sergeant has been stationed in Afghanistan's Paktika Provence working as a specialized mechanic repairing down-range military vehicles.
Wednesday he was reunited with his wife Kim and daughter Lilianna but it was the first time he has laid eyes on 4-month-old daughter Alina.
"Words could not explain it," smiled Apger, "it's kinda like the happiest and saddest that I've ever been. It's the first time that I'm ever going to get her but unfortunately I had to wait so long - but it feels great."
WHNT News 19 asked Apger how he has been able to deal with the separation during the past months.
"I don't distract myself from it," explains the dad." Letters, pictures, emails - internet whenever we could get it - is the best way to handle the situation over there, to stay in contact with your family and your loved ones."
But now all those family member are within Apger's reach. He says he wishes this type of happiness he is now feeling for the rest of his company overseas as well.
"I hope they're safe and doing their jobs and that everybody makes it home safe."
Apger will enjoy the first 7 days of his overdue 10 day paternity leave with his wife and girls before they must head back to upstate New York's Fort Drum to pack up belongings.
The family will close on their new Florence home on Friday.