After a few flight changes and travel delays, John Paradine finally had the chance to welcome home his son from a seven-month long deployment to Afghanistan.
Paradine said it was not only the thrill of seeing him after so long, it was the relief of seeing him in one piece.
Twenty-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Cory Paradine was deployed to Afghanistan in last year. During his time there, he was injured during an IED explosion.
“You hear your son is injured, and that scares you,” said John, known by many as Big John, who has worked as a custodian for the Kings Park School District for 11 years.
“I wanted to ask so many things. Was it your arm, your legs? But then again, I didn’t want to ask.”
Cory was lucky. The explosion that left him on the ground and in shock. One of his comrades rescued him. He spent a week in the hospital and has recovered from his injuries.
“I watch the news, I hear the stories,” said John. “Not too many come out of those.”
Cory, who was awarded the Purple Heart, returned home last week along with veteran Sherif Saad of Middle Island, flying in to LaGuardia Airport and welcomed by family and friends.
“It was a big day, Saturday,” said John. “Big day.”
John, who has two other children, Paige - a high school sophomore - and Ryan - a senior - describes laying eyes on his oldest child as he walked down the airport ramp.
“I’m looking for a broken arm, a sign of injury. I just needed to see him. He was in great shape, the uniform. I had to hide the tears. I was so happy for my kids, I just wanted to hug and hold him.”
Passengers stood up, said John, clapping, welcoming his son.
“It’s his time. It was a great feeling.”
They were then guided home by motorbike escort courtesy of the Greenlawn American Legion Riders.
Cory is vacationing this week with his girlfriend. He deploys to Camp LeJune, North Carolina, on Aug. 11. Asked if the family has any special plans, John replied, “special is right here in the backyard.”