Weather delays fail to dampen Barksdale pilot's homecoming

Published: Aug. 13, 2016 at 2:41 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2016 at 3:49 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Everyone knows what a special moment it is for a member of our military to be reunited with their family.

That moment was made even more special Friday night for the family of a Barksdale Air Force Base pilot. Weather delays kept them waiting more than 2 hours at Shreveport Regional Airport.

Seeing the word "delayed" next to Flight 3178 might not seem like much. But to friends and relatives of Lt. Col. Chris Otis, it felt like an eternity.

"Honestly I feel sick to my stomach. You've been waiting for this day for so long and, when it finally comes, it seems like every hour and every minute just continues to drag out," explained Otis' wife of 20 years, Kaye Otis, "You're anxious and nervous and excited all at once."

As if waiting 336 days wasn't long enough, weather delayed Otis' flight home. With every passing moment, his wife and teenage son anxiously awaited his arrival while surrounded by a dedicated group of supporters.

"I invited people; I thought maybe one or two would show up," Kaye Otis said. "And so it just means a lot to me to see how much they care and love our family."

After two and a half hours past his original scheduled return and a pizza delivery to give the patriotic crowd a much-needed energy boost, the gang was ready.

"It's pretty awesome," said a surprised Chris Otis.

"It was great to see everybody, It's been 11 months, essentially, since I was home. So it's great to see everybody come out and welcome me home."

What's first on their list of to-do's as a family?

"When he left, we went to Another Broken Egg to have breakfast before he went to the airport so he could deploy," Kaye Otis recalled. "So tomorrow we're going to repeat that, and that's going to be the official end of the cycle is to go out for breakfast."

Chris Otis said his goals are "getting caught up on sleep and being with my family."

The 18.5-year Air Force veteran said this return is extra special because not only was this the longest he's been away, he's also home just in time for his son's senior year of high school.

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