Hawaii-Based Marines Return From Iraq

Danica Hammer
Danica Hammer
Patrick Hammer
Patrick Hammer

By Walter Makaula

(KHNL) - By the look in her eye, you know it's been way too long.

Danica Hammer tells her baby, "There he is. There's your daddy!"

It doesn't take long for Patrick Hammer to spot his wife and daughter either.

Patrick has been fighting in Iraq for the past seven months and today, the family is celebrating.

While he's been away, his wife had to fill the shoes of both mommy and daddy to their little girl, Malia.

She says he's missed out on a lot.

"She like, started talking more like a little kid, like an adult, listening and understanding.  And running up to his picture and kissing him and saying daddy, daddy!"

But this is Patrick's second deployment in two years and for a young family, it's been extremely stressful. The first time around, he missed the birth of his daughter.

He says, he's looking forward to making up for the time lost, and doing the normal dad stuff like taking her to the park and going swimming.

While deployed to Iraq this time, he didn't get to see Malia walking around.

He says, "My daughter started walking week before I left, so I didn't really get to catch all that. Everything she's done I've just missed. But thank god my wife got it all on film for us."

Today, he didn't waste any time.

With a little help from mom, little Malia finds her way to the open arms of her daddy.

And although she can't quite get the words out herself, Patrick knows her tiny ruby slippers say it all... there's no place like home!