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October 23, 2013 at 9:22 PM

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Daddy's home: Steen family reunites at JBLM homecoming


MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Austan Steen, 4, looks out her front door at home before the homecoming for the 864th Engineering Battalion on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Brittany Long, right, a friend of Holly Steen, center, changes Camden Steen's, 6 months old, diaper as the group prepares to attend the homecoming for the returning soldiers of the 864th Engineering Battalion from Afghanistan.

Nine months ago, Holly Steen's husband deployed to Afghanistan with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 864th Engineering Battalion while she was pregnant and caring for two toddlers. On Wednesday, she hustled to decorate for Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen's battalion homecoming and prepared three kids to welcome back their father, including one he hadn't met before, 6-month-old Camden. When her husband first left, Steen was overwhelmed by what she thought she'd have to do all on her own: manage the last half of a pregnancy, a birth, a newborn, quickly growing toddlers and her role as the Family Readiness Group leader for the battalion's 617th Company. By the time he came back, Holly Steen had overcome everything that had overwhelmed her at the beginning of the deployment with the help of other pregnant military wives she'd met through the Pacemakers Pregnancy Support Group.


MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, walks out of her home to decorate the homecoming ceremony for her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

From left, Holly Steen, Natalie Gable and Brittany Long arrive at the 110th Chemical Battalion Rehearsal Bay to put up welcome home banners and signs for the returning soldiers.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, checks her phone for messages before she heads out to attend the homecoming.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Brittany Long, a friend of Holly Steen, not pictured, changes Camden Steen's diaper, while getting ready to attend the homecoming.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

On the way to the homecoming for the returning soldiers, Holly Steen puts on Toby Keith's song, "American Soldier," and Julie Steen, her mother in law, starts to weep in the car.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Julie Steen guides her granddaughter Austan Steen, 4, and Natalie Long, 3, as they make their way to be reunited with Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, waits to be reunited with her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Steen, as she surrounds herself with fellow mothers and family who also waiting for their loved ones.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen poses for a self portrait with her daughter, Austan, 4, as they wait for Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen, one of the returning soldiers of the 864th Engineering Battalion.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, center left, and her mother in law, Julie Steen, center right, reacts at the live broadcast of soldiers walking off the plane onto the tarmac.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen combs her hair when she finds out that the convoy carrying her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen, is about to arrive.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Camden Steen, 6 months old, waits to be reunited with his father, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah. Steen

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen holds up a banner and reacts to the sight of the soldiers marching in formation into the 110th Chemical Battalion Rehearsal Bay.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, carrying her son, Camden, 6 months old, looks for her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen, in a crowd of returning soldiers.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

In the middle of reunions, kisses, cries and the chaos of approximately 250 soldiers getting dismissed, Holly Steen finds her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Steen, while Julie Steen, left, his mother, sobs at the sight of their reunion.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen is reunited with her husband, SSG Jeremy Steen, together with their children, Camden, 6 months and Austan, 4, during the homecoming for the 864th Engineering Battalion.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen, gives his daughter, Austan Steen, 4, a big hug after being reunited.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen, collects his belongings with his children, Kaysen Steen, 2, left, and Austan Steen, 4, right, after being reunited with his family.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Holly Steen, with her children in tow, heads back to the car after being reunited with her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Steen.

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