Amarillo, TX - One Amarillo family received an early Christmas gift for their Thanksgiving.
It was a joyous night for the Vanlandingham family. While most families were preparing their turkey, this one was preparing for a homecoming.
Navy fireman Jeff Vanlandingham has been gone for five months and yesterday evening, his wife and daughters anxiously awaited his arrival at Rick Husband airport.
His original orders said he would not come back to Amarillo until next month, so his arrival was a pleasant surprise to his family.
"Aw man I couldn't wait to hug my girls. Seeing them for the first time in 5 months, I had almost forgotten what they look like," says Jeff.
"Honestly, I'm overwhelmed," says his wife Wendi. "It's been a long road, so we're glad he's home."
And right in time for Thanksgiving. Vanlandingham says he missed his family more than anything, but what he also looks forward to today. "My wife makes the best pumpkin pie. Knowing that she's making the pumpkin pie and if I was still in Chicago, I couldn't do it. So I'm glad to be back to her pumpkin pie."
"It's almost a month earlier than when he was expected to be home, so we're blessed. My girls have really really hurt missing him and it's definitely been a trial, but we're honored to do this for our country," says Wendi.
The family says they are glad Jeff is home for good and right in time for another special day.
"Couldn't be better," says Wendi. "It's our anniversary, so after 17 years of thanksgivings together, we are very thankful."