Best Father's Day gift: Brandon soldier meets newborn son

12:28 PM, Jun 17, 2011   |    comments
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  • On this day at Tampa International Airport, there are cell phones, balloons, flags and anxious faces. It's clear someone special is coming home.
    

Tampa, Florida - On this day at Tampa International Airport, there are cell phones, balloons, flags and anxious faces.

It's clear someone special is coming home. 

His name is Clay Martin, and he's a pilot for the U.S. Navy.

Pacing the terminal are his parents, sister, grandmother and wife Melanie.

His aunt and uncle even flew in from Arizona for the reunion.

It's been a long seven months.

In November, Clay was deployed to the Middle East.  He was stationed on a U.S. Navy ship in the Indian Ocean, leaving from time-to-time to fly helicopters in an area south of Pakistan.

He missed a lot of things while he was gone.

His son, Titus, 18 months, learned to walk.

And his other son, Jackson, entered the world.

"[The delivery day] was difficult, but I had my family," Clay's wife Melanie recalled.

Over the last several months, she's sent Clay pictures of Jackson.

But the two have never met.

Until today.

As Clay exits the tram at T.I.A., Melanie's face contorts to hold in the tears of joy that have been welling up since she birthed their son. 

Jackson, a dense 11-pound delight, is in her arms.

They kiss and hug, and then, Clay picks up his son for the very first time.

To watch their reunion, click on the video link at the top of this story.

"Hey buddy!" he says with a kiss.  It's the first of about 20 he'll place on those chubby cheeks in the next five minutes.

To get home, Clay flew through Hawaii, California and eventually back to Tampa.

And now this Father's Day, after traveling the world over, he's finally arrived in the exact place he's been waiting to be: two young boys in his arms and his wife by his side.

'It will be our best Father's Day yet.'

Clay is on leave until the end of June. 

After that, he'll fly to California for five months of training and then back to the Middle East for another seven-month deployment.

He'll return home again in November.

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