SOUTH FORSYTH — While most people were gearing up for their July Fourth weekend, one Forsyth County family and their friends had a different reason to celebrate Thursday.
They gathered to welcome home U.S. Air Force Capt. Chris Patton, a 2005 South Forsyth High School and 2009 Air Force Academy graduate, back from a six-month deployment.
“It’s been great, I haven’t seen all of these people since well before I left home,” Patton said. “It’s great that my parents put this thing together, I haven’t seen them in a long time. A lot of my friends from high school I haven’t seen in years are here. It’s just good to be here and see everyone.”
Patton has served as a fighter jet pilot in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.
“I started right of college and went to flight school and have been a pilot ever since,” he said. “I’ve been flying the F-15 for about four years now.”
Patton’s mother, Roseanne, said the event was a patriotic reminder of sorts.
“I was thinking when he comes home I want his hometown to know that there are people who grew up in this town and are really out there protecting us,” she said. “It’s just really close friends who came together to have food and fellowship.”
One of those was Jake McCullar, who has known Patton since childhood.
“I’m very pleased to see him because he’s been gone so long,” he said. “You can go six months without seeing someone and their whole face changes.”
Though it was officially a welcome-home party, it also served as a going away party, as Patton recently found out that he will be deployed again later this year.
“I just found out that I’m leaving again in October,” he said. “They wanted to do kind of a joint welcome home and ‘be safe for the next six months.’”
Patton, who currently lives in North Carolina, said he will eventually be relocating to Boise, Idaho.
“I’m moving to Boise in the next month. But because it is such short notice, my wife is actually staying in North Carolina,” he said. “I’m going to deploy out of Idaho, then pick her up on the way home and we’re all going to move finally to Idaho when I get back.”