Featured Story: Our First Deployment

by: Josie Thompson
My husband and I met when I was a junior in high school and he was a sophomore in college. We dated for less than a year when he came to me with information on the Army National Guard. At first I was very hesitant and told him I didn’t want him to enlist. He went ahead and did it anyway. Soon after swearing in he left for basic with a pact we made together. If we could get through basic and AIT we would get engaged. After 5 long months of him being away, and countless hours of college studies, he was home. We made it! Less than a month later, on St. Patrick’s Day, he proposed! We decided to wait for either orders to deploy or until I graduated from college. August rolled around and the orders finally came. He was to leave after the first of the year. We hustled to get everything finalized, changed our wedding date three times, and became adults faster than we had planned. I was a mere 19 years old planning the rest of my life. Finally January 8, 2011 was here and we had the most beautiful wedding ceremony we could have ever imagined. I married Spc Jesse Thompson with only our immediate family present. Unfortunately Jesse had pulled some strings to get out of that Saturday’s drills and he had to go back the next morning, bright and early. In the snow, he and I packed up the car and drove an hour and a half East to finalize his work for deployment. I of course got to spend the day shopping, as well as a person could feel after drinking too much champagne. Jesse was finished, we went home to open all of our presents, and hurried home to make the most of the next three weeks we had together. Well, those weeks came and went in a flash and before we knew it, it was time to go. Driving as slowly as we could to our final destination, we had only an hour or so of normalcy left for the next 400 days. Soon we said our goodbyes and I was on my way back home. I knew I’d see him in a month for a short weekend of leave before all the men were mobilized.

As I was starting another semester of college classes the time dragged on and on and finally in the middle of a horrendous snow storm he made it back to our little apartment on the edge of town. We cherished our days then made our way back to our final goodbye. Another hour and a half East to a coliseum full of other families saying goodbye we sent him off. The drive home was long and tiring, the anticipation of living alone for the next year was horrifying. Sure our parents lived in the same town, but who was going to protect me from the things that go bump in the night? A few weeks went by and I had developed a routine. I got to talk to Jesse often and I could tell how badly he wanted to come home by the tone in his voice. But then tragedy. I was working when I got two texts, one from my husband and one from his mom. In the exact same words they both revealed that Jesse’s grandpa had passed that evening. My husband was hundreds of miles away, how would he grieve? I didn’t know what to do or what to say to make him feel better. He was alienated in that camp. We had made the decision I would attend the funeral with his family in his place. Soon I got the most relieving phone call I’d ever received. The Red Cross gave my husband a loan, pulled some strings and he was coming to the funeral. On a small commercial plane with only one set of fatigues and a toothbrush he was in the town of his grandpa’s final resting place. That weekend was rough, but I was grateful. I got an extra 4 days with him before he left the country. The send off was bitter sweet and like all the others it came too quickly. Soon he was over seas, and I was taking a full load at school, cramming and studying like crazy, grateful he wasn’t there because he would have been nothing but neglected by my on-edge temper and lack of free time.

FINALLY! It was time for his leave! I was so excited! We’d get a honeymoon and to go to the lake oh and move out of our apartment. Soon we’d have no place to call “ours”. The process was slow, moving out that is. All we wanted to do was soak in every minute we could while we were together. Everthing was moved out and now I spend my nights in my parent’s basement while all of our wedding gifts are carefully packaged and stowed away in storage. I can’t smell his clothes, sit in his chair or find his little messes he left behind.

Jesse will be back in the spring and I can hardly wait. We talk everyday about how we can’t wait to go back to being a “normal” couple. But what he doesn’t know is how much I LOVE being a proud Army Wife. I’ve since turned 20 and make decisions on my own, pay bills, and keep our life organized. I tell him how I can’t wait for him to come home, but there is a silent reward in exchanged for his absence that I know I wouldn’t feel if he was doing anything else but serving this great country. I am proud to sacrifice the company of my husband for the freedom of America. I know he’ll come back and we’ll be together forever.

I appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to read about us and how we were united even though we are separated. I couldn’t be more proud of the sacrifice my husband decided to make.