At halftime of Sunday’s NFC South matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints and corporate partner Carnival Cruise Lines reunited an Air Force serviceman and his family just in the nick of time for Christmas.
Enlisted airman Anthony Williams, born and raised in New Orleans and currently stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, was on the verge of spending a second consecutive Christmas away from his family. However, through the efforts of the United States Air Force and Carnival Cruise Lines, Williams was whisked home for a special halftime surprise and was reunited with his mother, Karen, and his four daughters: twins India (9), Illiana (9) and Leah (8) and Imena (7).
Williams and his family will certainly remember his five-day respite from active duty in 2016. Carnival also surprised the family with a special vacation cruise for Williams and his family when time permits due to his service commitments.
"I was raised my entire life in New Orleans,” Williams said. “I enlisted and departed for the USAF in July of 2004. Unfortunately for me and my family, the next year we would endure the worst tragedy of our lives, Hurricane Katrina. Back then I was the only person with a job in my family, and it was because of the military that my family and I made it through those tough times. Since then just about every family member I have has relocated back into the city of New Orleans. Due to my military career, I have not been able to spend a Christmas in New Orleans, since I enlisted.”
Before being made aware of his surprise trip back home, Williams stated, “the most important thing to me are my four daughters. can maybe count on one hand how many occasions during Christmas that I've spent with them. They are always extremely understanding that Daddy has to work. Unfortunately, this will be the first time that we've spent two holiday seasons completely separated and this is probably the first time that the girls are old enough to remember.”