As the Keen family made it way from the elevator of St. John’s International Airport, Darlene Ryan approached her son-in-law with a triple-triple of Tim Hortons coffee just for him.
The first time Sgt. David Keen had a taste of that brand, he took a 1 1/2-hour hike to the Kandahar outlet in Afghanistan to do so.
Though David has been married to Ryan’s daughter Chantelle Keen, for five years, his job as a door gunner on Black Hawk helicopters has prevented him from travelling to his wife’s home province up until Tuesday.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” said Keen, shortly after his family arrived in St. John’s.
“I’ve been planning on coming up here and seeing my (family) since me and my wife got married. It’s very hard to do leave (from the military), especially outside the continental U.S.”
David Keen is stationed with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Ky., but the Keen family lives in Clarksville, Tenn.
David served an 18-month stint in Iraq and two 12-month tours of duty in Afghanistan, the most recent one of which he completed in March.
Ryan, who is from St. John’s, said she’s only managed to meet him on one other occasion a few months after the birth of the Keen’s first child, Riley, who is now four years old. Another child, Noah, is two.
“Oh my God, I’m floored,” said Ryan when asked how it feels to have her daughter and son-in-law home.
Originally from Davenport, Va., David was set to head downtown for some fish and chips with those who came to greet him at the airport Tuesday evening. He has lots of ideas about what else he would like to do over the course of his family’s two-week visit.
“I was wanting to see what George Street is all about,” said the American soldier in a southern accent.
He also plans to check out Signal Hill, taste some local beverages, and hopefully spot a moose — David is a crossbow hunter and an avid outdoorsman.
“Hopefully someday I’ll make it back out here and tag a black bear or caribou,” he added with a laugh.
David will also celebrate his 31st birthday during his stay in the province.