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ETX military wife organizes surprise homecoming celebration for her navy husband

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An East Texas navy wife took it upon herself to plan a special homecoming celebration for her navy husband.

It was a homecoming that Senior Chief Rodney Kelley was not expecting.

"I just thought we were having a small get-together at home," said Rodney. "I really wasn't expecting any of this."

His wife Deborah was all smiles because it was she who organized the surprise homecoming. She had friends, family, and even strangers gather inside the Tyler Regional Airport to cheer for her soldier's arrival.
Rodney has served in the U.S. Navy as a medic for the past 27 years.
His last homecoming was in July before he was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan.

"You always keep thinking about these days. I was marking a calendar everyday and it seems like it will never gets here," said Rodney. "When you finally get on the plane it's hard. You feel like it's hard to believe you're finally here."

In his 27 years of service, Rodney says he has spent time in Iraq, Afghanistan and Dessert Storm.

Although it's not his first deployment and homecoming, Deborah says being apart is something you never get use to.

"You get into a routine, but you don't get use to it. It's always kind of like a hole in your heart because your 're not together," said Deborah.

Those moments of embracing her hero upon his arrival are always worth it.

"You just can't wait. It's like the icing on the cake. It's the most special moment," said Deborah.

Homecoming for him means more quality time with his family and enjoying his favorite food.

"East Texas barbeque," said Rodney.

Although this homecoming has the same meaning for Deborah, she has something else in mind.

"He has a long list of things to do that I have saved for him," said Deborah.

Senior Chief Rodney Kelley says he plans to retire in December, after serving 27 years in the navy.

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