HOUSTON It was happy times for a marine and his family when he returned home Saturday after serving in the military overseas happy for everyone except one little brown-eyed exception.

The last time he saw me, I was eight-months pregnant, wife Melissa Dominguez said.  So, it s going to be a little different.

Cadence celebrated her first birthday by seeing her father for the first time Saturday.  However, the moment they met was not exactly how Sergeant David Dominguez dreamed it would be.

It s hard, said Tina Garza, whose son David is a marine sergeant.  It s really hard.  He s not home very often.

A lot can happen in a year, especially in families forced to love Semper Fi.

It is why Melissa Dominguez was nervous.

It has been driving me crazy, Melissa said.  My sister-in-law was counting the days down and she has no idea what s going on.

She doesn t like strangers, David said.  I was hoping she would just come to me, but it didn t happen.

He s learned patience, though, by surviving two stints in Iraq and enduring the last year in Japan while training to become an explosives engineer.

It s hard [work], but the rewards are good too, Dominguez said.

He loves serving and considers it the best way to provide for his family.

Everyone likes hearing about what I do, Dominguez said.

Everyone except the little girl he knows only through pictures. Dominguez tried several times, without luck, to embrace Cadence. Finally, with help from her grandmother and several minutes to warm up to her father, Cadence eventually walked to her father and allowed him to hold her.

I thought it would take longer than that, Dominguez said smiling. 

It may seem small, but for this marine family that spends more time apart than together, it is a huge event.

Dominguez will be home for two weeks before returning to Japan.

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