Sgt. Brandon Niles became overwhelmed on Sunday afternoon when he met his 10-month-old son for the first time as he arrived at Sacramento International Airport.
Niles had been in Afghanistan, and his son, Braeden was born March 20, three days after Niles, 35, was deployed with his National Guard unit.
During his deployment, Niles had tried to keep up with Braeden’s growth via the Internet but access wasn’t always the best and he admits the separation has been hard.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Niles told the Sacramento Bee as he hugged family and friends at the airport.
Niles, a painting contractor, also expressed how difficult it was missing his son’s first months of life.
“I can’t get that time back,” he said. “I wanted so badly to see him when he was smaller, like the size of a football. Hopefully, he won’t even remember that I was gone.”
Niles’ fiancée, Janell Mosley, said she was upset when she didn’t deliver their child in time for Niles to meet him before being deployed.
“It’s been a really, really hard year, definitely tough,” she said.
But the most important thing for the family is that Niles is back home, safe and sound.
“We just thank our lucky stars,” said his brother Cameron Niles. “I’m excited, ecstatic for him. The feeling is indescribable.”
“I’m just so happy to have him home safe,” said his tearful mother, Annette Niles.