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Patriotic Article
Military

By Army Sgt. Gaelen Lowers

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Families In Different Wars
(March 23, 2011)

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CONTINGENTCY OPERATION BASE SPEICHER, Iraq (March 20, 2011) — “Ya know, I pick on her all the time, but her being over there and us being here, it's hard,” said a teary-eyed Staff Sgt. Robert Hawk, day shift battle captain with the 394th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Newton, Kan., native, whose daughter, Spc. Ashley Parkman, .50 caliber gunner on the convoy escort team with the 425th Transportation Company, 821st Transportation Battalion, was recently deployed to Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Hawk and his wife 1st Lt. Cheryl Hawk, battalion maintenance officer with the 394th CSSB, arrived in Iraq in June 2010, but two months prior to their deployment, they watched as their youngest daughter packed up and deployed to Afghanistan.

“We were just crying as we went home as parents,” said Cheryl Hawk. “At the same time, we looked at each other as soldiers and knew that she was going off as a soldier and just doing her job.”

The Hawk family is not the only group of soldiers who have two different sets of emotions due to dual deployments. Staff Sgt. Constance Oberg, orderly room non-commissioned officer-in-charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 394th CSSB, and a Fremont, Neb., native, and Sgt. 1st Class Toni Wright, equipment readiness NCO with the 394th CSSB, and a
 Staff Sgt. Constance Oberg (far left), orderly room non-commissioned officer-in-charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 394th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Fremont, Neb., native; Staff Sgt. Robert Hawk (back), day shift battle captain with the 394th CSSB, and a Newton, Kan., native; his wife, 1st Lt. Cheryl Hawk (center), battalion maintenance officer with the 394th CSSB; and Sgt. 1st Class Toni Wright (right), equipment readiness NCO with the 394th CSSB, and a Newcastle, Neb., native, hold up photos of their children who are deployed to Afghanistan while they are all deployed to Iraq. Photo by Army Pfc. Ashley Reiten
Staff Sgt. Constance Oberg (far left), orderly room non-commissioned officer-in-charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 394th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Fremont, Neb., native; Staff Sgt. Robert Hawk (back), day shift battle captain with the 394th CSSB, and a Newton, Kan., native; his wife, 1st Lt. Cheryl Hawk (center), battalion maintenance officer with the 394th CSSB; and Sgt. 1st Class Toni Wright (right), equipment readiness NCO with the 394th CSSB, and a Newcastle, Neb., native, hold up photos of their children who are deployed to Afghanistan while they are all deployed to Iraq. Photo by Army Pfc. Ashley Reiten
Newcastle, Neb., native, both have sons currently deployed to Afghanistan.
Oberg said that she feels mixed emotions about her son, Petty Officer 2nd Class Colin Oberg, a cryptologist with the U.S. Navy, stationed at Misawa, Japan, being deployed to a war zone.

“On one hand, I was very worried about him, but on the other hand I am very proud of him for doing what he is doing,” she said. “I am really proud of Colin for doing everything he has done. I have told him that countless times while we have been on the phone.”

She said she was shocked to hear that he was deploying to Afghanistan.

“He called me when I was at Fort Hood [Texas] mobilizing to come to Iraq,” she continued. “He said that he had something to tell me, which never comes across well. Because he knew that I was going to Iraq, an opportunity to deploy came up and he grabbed it, only to find out that they were heading to Afghanistan and not Iraq. Being in the Navy, you think of them being on a sub or a ship, and never really think of them as being in Afghanistan.”

Wright said that although her experience as a soldier helped her understand the hardships that her son, Spc. William Wright, an ammunition stock control and accounting specialist with the 452nd Ordnance Company, a Newcastle, Neb., native, deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, would be facing, she never stopped worrying about him.

“I worry about him all the time!” she exclaimed. “I knew what was expected of my son, and I knew he could handle it. But, as a mother, you always find time to think about your children, no matter where you are.”

The three families said that, because they are soldiers themselves and have been on multiple deployments, they were able to prepare their children for the possible challenges that they would face in a deployed environment.

“Because I had deployed before, I knew what to push to her to get her prepared,” said 1st Lt. Cheryl Hawk, who is on her fourth deployment. “Not every kid has that option. It was pretty lucky for her to have parents with insight.”

Wright said that in addition to the benefit of being through her previous deployment, her son helped her pack her bag this time around, so he was able to have an idea of what he will do when he packed his.

“It helped him to prepare both mentally and physically because he would ask me questions about what I had to do before I deployed,” she said. "Plus, he probably remembered from my first deployment that I worked a lot of long hours. He also helped me pack my duffle bags. So I think he had some training.”

All three families say that they have good communication with their children while they are deployed. Through updated technology, staying in touch has been easier than ever for families, both home and abroad, to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Oberg said that she and her son use Facebook and Skype to stay in touch as much as possible.

“That is the reason we got Facebook accounts,” she said. “We can share pictures and messages easily.”

The Hawk family used the Army's DSN telephone lines to keep in
contact with each other. Cheryl Hawk said that about twice a month, her daughter would call and they would be able to chat for about an hour or so.

Her daughter has since redeployed stateside but still reminisces of the steady communication she had with her mother while deployed.

“Her Facebook page says, ‘glad to be home, but misses phone time with mom,'” said Cheryl Hawk with a smile.

Being soldiers themselves, the parents understood the dangers that their children would be facing while in a deployed environment.

“It wasn't a big deal until I found out she was a gunner,” said Robert Hawk. “That kind of scared me. On my first tour I was a gunner. She said to me, ‘I want to be just like you, Dad.'”

His wife said that there was only one time during her daughter's deployment that she was really nervous for her, and that is when the dining facility at her daughter's base was blown up while her daughter was in it.

“I talk to her at length about her missions, and I have seen videos of her missions, and none of that bothered me because I looked at it from the soldier perspective,” she said. “But when she told me that the chow hall had been hit and she was in it, that is when the mom side of me kicked in a bit and kind of got to me.”

The 394th CSSB is close to redeployment, with Parkman already home. Each parent expressed the joy of the thought of being reunited with their children.

Cheryl Hawk and her husband said they are excited about redeploying and being able to spend time with their four children and three grandchildren.

“I can't wait to get home and see them all,” she said. “I miss them a lot.”

Wright said that because she gets to head home before her son does, she will be the first person there to greet him as he comes off the plane.

“I just can't wait to see him,” she said. “I am going to be Mom waiting for her son to return from the war.”
By Army Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
3rd Sustainment Brigade
Copyright 2011

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