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This article was published 14/7/2011 (3750 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A hot stretch of tarmac on Winnipeg's 17 Wing was witness to joyous reunions and a few good-natured pranks Thursday as about 20 airmen and airwomen returned from a two-month deployment with the NATO-led mission in Libya.
Newly engaged Alison Dickey arrived early to welcome home fiancé and Hercules pilot Capt. Justin Boates.
"It's kind of like Christmas morning," said Dickey. "I couldn't really sleep last night."
While Dickey and the other families gathered outside Hangar 10 to watch the giant CC-130 Hercules make an impressive flyover and roaring landing, another group of airmen waited for their chance to pounce.
As soon as the side door popped open, two of the crewmen were pulled from the Hercules, kicking and yelling, to be dunked in a waiting tub of cold water.
Thursday marked the last flight for two members of the elite Winnipeg-based 435 Squadron -- the only Hercules squadron in the Canadian military that flies challenging air-to-air refuelling missions -- and their colleagues marked the occasion with an impromptu baptism.
Capt. Paul Faulkner landed the Hercules Thursday and was the first to be dunked.
Faulkner seemed to enjoy the ribbing from the colleagues with whom he'd spent the last 60 days on the Libyan mission, as well as the last five years in Winnipeg.
"It's my very last flight with the squadron," said Faulkner. "The crew that I'm with know me pretty well, so they set up a little fun for when I got down to the ground."
Faulkner was then greeted by his wife and two-year-old daughter on the tarmac before he took them for a tour of the plane to see "where daddy works."
Dickey met her fiancé as he stepped off the plane and the two shared a kiss before Boates shared his impressions of the mission.
"It was 60 days of good flying," Boates said. "But it took us a long time to get home and I'm just happy to have boots on the ground and to call it a day."
For many of the families present it wasn't just a happy reunion, it was a relief.
While there is substantial risk in any deployment, spouses are left with a lot of work and worry -- especially when there are kids are involved.
This was Capt. Lucas Shaver's first deployment; he left three young boys in Winnipeg.
"You're gone for two months and you miss the end of school, miss baseball season, so it's nice to get back and get some time in," he said. "My wife's been running the show for a while now."
"The majority of the workload goes on the families left at home when we deploy," Shaver said as he held his youngest boy in his arms. "Going from a two-parent family to a one-parent family (for) two months," said Shaver, "my hat's off to them."
The 20 airmen and airwomen are pilots and support crew for the Hercules tankers flying refuelling missions in support of Canadian and allied fighters in Libya.