CAMP TAJI, Iraq - A deployed Soldier's toughest challenge may be separation from Families for an extended period of time, but many Soldiers here take advantage of the various forms of communication devices to remain in contact with their loved-ones in the states.

Soldiers from Fort Hood's 96th Transportation Company use the unit's morale and welfare facility or the "Dragon's Lair" to keep in touch with Families and friends back home.

With several months left to go until redeployment, the 96th Trans. Co. Soldiers remain in close contact especially during holidays like Father's Day. Several of the unit's fathers recently reminisced about their holiday traditions and activities.

Spc. Andres Oliver, a supply specialist with the headquarters platoon, and resident of Killeen, said he celebrated this Father's day as a parent and of two identical twin boys, Yandel and Adonis. "Being away from them is hard. I can't wait to be home with them after being gone so long," he said. He will use the Dragon's Lair video room to chat with his boys.

Cpl. Wayne Raffety, a toolroom noncommissioned officer in maintenance platoon, and a Peoria, Ill. native, said his Father's Days are usually spent with his father - Wayne Raffety, Sr, riding their motorcycles and going fishing or camping. Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wardale, 2nd platoon's senior NCO, and resident of Killeen, Texas, said his two sons usually wake him early, though it's his day to sleep in, and surprise him with breakfast.

He said the rest of the day usually consists of attending church and, playing the latest video games. "Boys just want to beat their father at something.

But they can't beat me," he said. Sgt. Jeffery O'Millian, a Tiffin, Ohio native, and team leader in 3rd platoon, said he usually spends a quiet day with his daughter playing mini-golf followed by dinner at a restaurant. The 96th Trans. Co. arrived in October 2008 and provides heavy-lift transportation support to Coalition units throughout Iraq.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16