Waiting over for 1067#039;s families

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 21, 2003

The 1067th Transportation Company of the Alabama National Guard returned to its home base in Brantley after spending the past four months on active duty at Fort Benning.

The company includes a detachment in Troy of about 40 members.

For those waiting at home, the returned of their loved ones meant they could finally breath a sigh of thankful relief and that their lives could return to normal.

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Helen Stewart said a tearful goodbye to her husband James when the company was deployed &uot;to places unknown,&uot; on Feb. 13. Not only was she concerned about her husband's safety and that of the other members of the 1067th, she was also facing uncertainty at home.

&uot;There were so many things at home that I depended on James for and, with him gone, all of the responsibility was on me,&uot; she said. &uot;I didn't know how I would be able to manage everything or even if I could.&uot;

Stewart didn't know how the couple's income would be affected and worried that they might not be able to meet their bills.

&uot;I know it was even harder for those with children,&uot; she said. &uot;All of a sudden, your life had changed. I had concerns and worries.&uot;

The 1067th trained at Fort Benning for deployment overseas and that compounded the worries, turning them into fears.

&uot;We were fortunate that we were able to talk with our loved ones often and James got to come home most weekends,&uot; she said. &uot;I was worried about where they would be sent and when. Even after the war was said to end, they could have been sent over there. So, I worried then, too, but the longer they stayed at Fort Benning, the better I felt.&uot;

Stewart said waiting anxiously at home thinking the 1067th might be sent overseas, gave her a greater understanding of what others went through when their loved ones were sent into the war zone.

&uot;I really appreciate them and what they did because I know how hard waiting was for me,&uot; she said.

Now that, her husband is home, Stewart, laughingly, said things will be back to normal as soon as he's back pushing the lawnmower.

However, Fred Taylor said things will never really be the same between him and his son, Aaron.

Seeing his son leave, knowing he could be sent into a very dangerous situation, made the bond between father and son even stronger.

&uot;Aaron and I have always been close,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;This brought us even closer. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was bury my daddy. The second hardest was seeing Aaron leave. It hurt my heart all the way through.&uot;

Taylor said he prayed for his son and the entire company the whole time they were on active duty.

&uot;I put my trust in the Lord and I tried not to worry,&uot; he said. &uot;But this was something that I couldn't leave at the altar. I tried, but I still worried.&uot;

Even though the 1067th was at Fort Benning, Taylor said he knew they could be sent elsewhere at any time.

&uot;I've been in the military and I know that you never know from one day until the next exactly what you'll be doing,&uot; he said. &uot;I knew that they could be shipped out at any time.&uot;

When Taylor learned that the company would be coming home, he still felt a little uneasy.

&uot;Maybe - the last week or two - I felt a little better,&uot; he said. &uot;But, now that I know for sure that the unit is going to be deactivated, a huge burden has been lifted off me and off my wife, Sonya. Off all our family. We're so thankful they're all coming home to stay.&uot;

Taylor said if the 1067th had been sent to the Persian Gulf, they would have gone willingly and performed admirably.

&uot;They did what they were asked to do - needed to do - and we are so proud of all of them,&uot; he said.