FORT LEE, Va. (WRIC)—Monday night
marked a happy homecoming for 44 families at Fort Lee, where soldiers returned
from Afghanistan and Kuwait.
The returning men and women—who've
been gone since May—were all members of the Mortuary Affairs Unit, part of the 54th
Little 2-year-old Landen hasn't seen
his mother in months; he's been living with his grandparents.
“A little hard not having her, you
know, be able to talk to her every day like we were used to,” said Sylvia Mata,
“As you see, we're not teenagers
anymore,” said John Mata, Landen's grandfather. “So, with a youngster, a
toddler, it's been difficult.”
On Nov. 25 at Fort Lee, Landon waited
to be reunited with his mother; John and Sylvia Mata anxiously awaited their
“We're extremely, extremely happy,” John
Private First Class Sunnie Mata has
spent the last six months in Afghanistan as part of the Mortuary Affairs Unit.
“They've been preparing fallen
heroes to be transported home to their family members,” said First Lieutenant
The soldiers arrived, and after a
short ceremony came the moment everyone had been waiting for. Amidst hugs, tears
and cheers, Landen was reunited with his mother.
“I'm speechless,” Sunnie Mata said. “As
soon as I got to Afghanistan I was thinking of the day of coming home.”
The Mata family has much to be grateful
for this Thanksgiving.
“I'm very proud of my daughter,”
said John Mata.
“Oh my gosh, you don't know how I
feel right now,” Sylvia Mata said.
“It's gonna be one of the best
[Thanksgivings],” Sunnie Mata said. “It's great to be back.”
Copyright 2013 by Young
Broadcasting of Richmond