Members of National Guard Unit Return To WNY

12:47 AM, Nov 8, 2013   |    comments
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  • Anna and Joe Zizzi embrace upon his return to Niagara Air Reserve Base
  • The Zizzi children wore specially made tee shirts for their father's homecoming.
  • 107th Airlift Wing Staff Sgt. Joseph Zizza of Orchard Park greets daughter Emma, 5 , upon return from two-onth overseas mission

ORCHARD PARK and NIAGARA FALLS, NY - From the yellow ribbons wrapped around trees, to the red white and blue balloons that festooned the front porch, everywhere outside Zizzi home in Orchard park there were signs of an impending homecoming on Thursday.

"We just put them up this morning," laughed Anna Zizzi, who got barely 24 hours notice that her husband, Staff Sergeant Joseph Zizzi, would be among 30 members 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard, returning to Western New York after a more than two-month deployment in Southwest Asia.

As she readied the couple's two small children to head to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, she reflected in some milestones Joe missed while away.

There was their daughter's 5th birthday, and her first day of kindergarten. "Oh, and of course our anniversary," Mrs. Zizzi said.

The Zizzi clan is no stranger to military service.

Staff Sergeant Zizzi and his brother Phillip (who deployed overseas on the same day in August) followed their father's footsteps in joining the Air National Guard.

However, this was the first time Joseph and Anna had been separated by an overseas deployment in the six years that they have been married.

"We've missed him a lot," said Anna. "We've been really blessed to have so much support from our family, our church, our neighbors and friends ...but this was harder than I thought it would be. It's not the same without him, and we're very excited to see him."

She would have to wait a bit longer.

The scheduled return of the 107th from what was its final mission as an airlift unit (its new mission will involve drones) was beset by several delays.

They were supposed to arrive on Wednesday, but that was pushed back a day when their plane encountered mechanical problems.

When Thursday finally came, the families were notified on at least two occasions that their loved ones' arrival would be delayed due to inclement weather.

For most of late Thursday afternoon, Anna found herself huddled inside an airbase building with other families, holding the couple's 2 year old son Henry, who held a sign which read "Get out of my way...I get my Daddy back today."

At 6:14 pm, as members piled off a transport bus from the tarmac, Anna peered over the crowd and shouted, "Joe...Joe! We're over here!"

Tears streamed her face as she embraced and kissed him.

As he scooped up his two children in his arms, Sgt. Zizzi, between kissing their cheeks, could be heard to say, "I missed you guys so's so good to be home."


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