MIAMI – A U.S. soldier from South Florida returned home Monday.
The homecoming was an emotional one as there will be no more deployments for Army Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Stallworth after two decades of service.
Stallworth was greeted with a round of applause after landing at Miami International Airport. His wife joined him for the trip from Lithuania.
"This is a wonderful, wonderful experience. I did not expect this," he said. "It's great that my country welcomed me back like this, and I really appreciate it."
Stallworth dedicated 24 years of his life to the U.S. and spent the past two years serving with NATO forces.
"I joined when I was 18," Stallworth said. "I wanted to do something different, and what better than being able to do something for my country. I started off with six years and it turned out (to be) more than 20."
Stallworth's family was joined by airport workers who held signs thanking Stallworth for his sacrifice. For his wife, the end to the goodbyes and see you soons is a relief.
"I'm really, really glad he's home now at this point in time when we don't know what's coming next. I'm super glad he's home," Carol Stallworth said.
Wayne Stallworth said he can't wait to catch up with family and friends, and he's just as eager to get out on the water.
"I want to relax and do some fishing," he said.
Stallworth's family plans to celebrate his retirement with a trip to the Florida Keys.