LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Captain Lori Gulley stepped off her airplane at Southwest Florida International Airport today, and was greeted by a community who support her mission. WINK News was there as the Naples resident returned from a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
It was an emotional homecoming for Captain Lori Gulley. An army of military supporters were standing, waiting to thank the military hero.
"It was amazing, I was not expecting that. I'm very appreciative for everyone who came out. It shows a lot. It means a lot," said Cpt. Lori Gulley.
Captain Gulley's reaction was priceless, as she gazed at a community who banded together to give her a hero's welcome.
"I've done many comings and goings and they always make you cry. They are always emotional," said Patriot Rider Tony Karam.
Some who came out had never met the soldier, while others were too young to fully understand her story.
"I don't know her, but the sacrifice soldiers make for our country, just to take a couple hours out of our day to thank her for it, is an awesome opportunity," said Lorraine Laplatte.
It was a mission accomplished for those who truly love our country and a humbling experience for the soldier they came to greet.
"I'm appreciative of it. There are so many other people out there, still fighting, much more deserving of this than I am," said Cpt. Gulley.
Lori is looking forward to the simple things her home of Naples has to offer.
"The beach. Definitely the beach. Being with my family and in a house with plumbing!"
Captain Gulley was the sole psychologist for the Mountain Division bordering Pakistan. Her duties were to make battlefield circulations, throughout six bases to care for soldiers.
"It was very, very difficult, but the difficulties make you stronger, make you learn more."
But as she returns stateside, she often thinks about her fellow service members still fighting over seas.
"Thank you on behalf of the 410 soldiers. They would be so thankful to know we have so much support here."
This homecoming was quite different from the one she got when she returned to her base, Fort Polk, a few weeks ago. Captain Gulley didn't have anyone to welcome her home.
And if that homecoming wasn't enough for you, WINK News also wants to welcome another soldier home. Corporal Travis Livingston of Cape Coral returned home last night. He surprised his wife and got to meet his son for the very first time. Corporal Livingston has been stationed in Afghanistan for the past nine months.