By WHAM, ABC Rochester, NY
Rochester, N.Y. - For the last 11 weeks, Senior Airman Seray Aksoy has been working hard to get a friend she met during her seven month deployment in Kuwait to the States.
"He's very important; to create a bond with an animal there it helps more than you would think it would," said Aksoy. "Being over there was tough enough; it's actually great to have something to look forward to when you go to work at night - it helped."
He is a three-year-old white cat with a black spot and black tail. His name is Marcus.
"I think every shift had a different name for him. I named him the first week we were there, and Marcus is the one that came to my mind - that's kind of what we all kept calling him."
It took a couple of months for the Marcus to let Aksoy get close, but once she gained his trust, with the help of food, their friendship blossomed.
"Eventually he would approach me, rub up against me and wanted his head pet all the time," said Aksoy. "Then it turned into him jumping on my lap and purring and loving all the attention."
Aksoy's relationship with Marcus inspired her to start a trap and release, spay and neuter program in Kuwait.
"I was actually trapping all the cats that I could and taking them back to our vet, and he would give them all their vaccines. He would test them for diseases, we would then spay or neuter them if they were healthy and then, with all the other cats, we re-released them, because most of them were pretty feral, and they couldn't be around people anyways," Aksoy explained. "But when I got him [Marcus] he was just so loving and as soon as he saw me, he just ran right up to me and he was super sweet."
It was at that moment she knew she couldn't leave him when her deployment came to an end.
She worked with her leadership and the SPCA International to help bring him back to the U.S.
On Thursday, just after noon, Marcus arrived at the Greater Rochester International Airport and reunited with Aksoy.
He rubbed up against the front of the carrier as soon as he saw her, as if to acknowledge he knows he's home.
"This is awesome, I'm so happy that it's finally happening," she said. "It's so great to finally have him, it really is. I can't wait to get him home."