ELKHART -- Army Spc. Jesse Williams had someone very special to welcome him home from Iraq Tuesday.
Williams met his 8-month-old daughter, Madison, for the first time. Madison and Williams' girlfriend, Amanda Caldwell, were among more than a dozen people there to greet Williams at South Bend Regional Airport.
Caldwell found out she was pregnant last January. A few days later, Williams found out he would be heading to Iraq.
Since then, Caldwell said the two have spent much of their time thinking about the meeting between father and daughter.
Caldwell said she and Williams tried to stay in touch regularly on the phone two or three times a week and through e-mail. Occasionally there were breaks in communication.
It took two days to notify Williams of Madison's birth, which happened five weeks early.
Thirty minutes before Williams' flight landed, Caldwell, Williams' mother, Debbie Passerallo, and other family members anxiously awaited his arrival.
"I am excited," Caldwell said, "I can't even contain it."
Madison passed the time in Passerallo's arms, playing with her grandmother's sunglasses.
Almost immediately after entering the gate, Caldwell greeted Williams, introducing him to his daughter. Williams smiled as he held Madison for the first time.
Caldwell said Williams will be in the country for 18 days before returning to Iraq, where he'll be for roughly three or four months.
But for right now, Williams said he was glad to be home.
"It feels great," he said.
Contact Tom Lange at email@example.com.