Military families are used to the sacrifices of deployment, but that doesn't make it any easier. It does make the reunions that much sweeter.
On this Wednesday night, family and friends waited eagerly at Sea-Tac International Airport, as the long wait of deployment finally paid off.
Abby Hopfauf stood waiting with her youngest, 3-year-old Nora, who held a sign that read, "I waited 233 days to hug my daddy."
When Lt. Commander Jared Hopfaus rounded the corner, Nora went running with open arms, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy."
"This never gets old," Hopfauf said about the happy homecoming. "This is why I keep doing this, to help protect the family."
It was Nora's first time being away from her dad for so long. But this completes the fifth deployment for Hopfauf after nearly 8 months deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. Naval reservist is based out of Everett.
"I wasn't expecting as many people to come out and saying thanks, but it's appreciated. It really is," Hopfauf said.
The Lake Stevens family had one more reunion to make. Waiting at home were the couple's three sons, ages 11, 14, and 17, who had no idea their dad would be coming home tonight.