Just in time: 4th FW Airman returns days before wife's due date

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
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For months, she waited patiently for him to come home; wishing every day that he would make it back safely. She knew he was making the sacrifice to serve his country as he pledged to do, but she wanted nothing more than for him to be by her side.

She was making a big sacrifice too, raising their two children without him there to help. But what made this time even more difficult is that there was another child on the way.

Candi Douglas and her husband, Tech. Sgt. Sean Douglas, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, said being split apart at a time when they needed each other the most was one of the hardest things they said they have ever endured. Luckily, Sean's return came just in time.

Candi was a mere four days away from her due date when Sean arrived back at Seymour Johnson, April 5.

"I've been pretty nervous the past few weeks, wondering if Sean would make it to see the baby being born," Candi explained. "We lucked out though. I think the baby was waiting for him to show up."

But nerves were only part of the struggles Candi dealt with for the past several months.
One of the biggest hardships, she said, was trying to raise their two children while playing the role of both their mother and father.

"I had to be their rock, like Sean is," Candi said. "It's not easy trying to calm their fears when you're worried yourself."

In her dual-parent role, she had to balance more responsibilities while not overworking herself and causing unneeded stress for the baby.

Fortunately for Candi and her children, her father, Pete Alves, was able to step in and help relieve some of the burden of running a single-parent home.

Alves, a former service member himself, knows all too well the adversity that spouses deal with when their loved ones are deployed. As a proud father and grandfather, he knew it was his time to give back.

"With Sean being gone, it was my time to step up and do what I needed to do to take care of my beautiful daughter and grandchildren," Alves said. "You just do what you have to do. We're so happy Sean is home safely and we're so proud of him."

As a crew chief, Sean worked long, hard hours as a member of the 380th Expeditionary Wing, which was deployed to Southwest Asia. He said it was a rough deployment overall, but he was grateful he was able to keep in contact with his wife through daily emails and speaking on the phone about once a week.

Sean said the constant communications back home helped relieve his worries and made his time away a little easier. Also, knowing his father-in-law filled his role in his absence made him feel better about the wellbeing of his family.

"You feel so helpless being so far away," Sean said. "You want to be there for your family when things are tough, but I'm glad they had so much support while I was gone. My wife was awesome and I couldn't have made it through this deployment without her."

With every day counting down to the arrival of his newborn baby, Sean kept getting more and more anxious as he waited to see if he would make it home in time. The date and time of arrival kept fluctuating and there's always the looming threat that something could go wrong.

As he got on the plane headed for North Carolina, he reached the peak of his anxiety, wondering if Candi would be there waiting for him or in the hospital going into labor.

To Sean's relief, she stood there, large belly and all, waiting for him as patiently as she had since he left.

"It feels so good to be home and just in time," he said.