'Black Jack's' last flight home
January 6, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - Although the last of 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team members missed Christmas by a couple of hours, not one single Soldier or Family member seemed to care as they walked across Cooper Field, most donning Santa Claus hats, at 1:45 a.m., Dec. 26, on Fort Hood.
The 200 on the morning's flight was the last of the "Black Jack" Soldiers deployed to northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Amongst the passengers were the rest of the brigade leadership.
Many of the families spent a good portion of Christmas day either on the road or waiting a local hotel room waiting on the flight to arrive. Yet, for Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Edwards, a platoon sergeant assigned to Company A, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, of Bakersfield, Calif., who showed up to welcome back her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jerald Edwards, also a platoon sergeant, she has been waiting since Dec. 17, when she returned from Iraq.
During the mad rush to find family members and friends, most people get lost in the scramble for a few minutes. Yet, now on their second deployment to Iraq, the Edwards knew exactly how and where to meet on the division's parade field where the welcome home ceremonies are held.
"We have a system now. Isn't it sad that we have a system where we'll meet on the field," Jennifer joked.
The two deployed together for the year. Jerald, of Bloomfield, Ind., serves in the 2nd BCT Headquarters.
As the two career soldiers were about to enter another deployment, they decided that they should get on the same deployment cycle. Jennifer, who was assigned to the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, on Fort Hood, decided to be reassigned to 2nd BCT to deploy with her husband.
The Edwards, who have two, school-aged boys, thought it would be the lesser of two evils. When the two deployed, they left Hunter, 12, and Rylee, 8, with Jennifer's parents in Bakersfield, Calif.
"Rather than having one parent gone for a year, every other year, we thought it would be better on them for both of us just to be gone for one year," Jennifer said.
She's spent the last week making sure their home in Killeen was ready for her husband, their children and their pets. "She's a part of the family care plan," she said laughing.
Being the one back early, Jennifer said it fell upon her to make sure their cars, which were both dead, could start again, make sure she had some food in the fridge, and to clean up.
"There were a bunch of huge, dead spiders ... our house was cold, dusty and there was a lot of dead spider and crickets," she said. "My focus was on cleaning, getting food and getting it livable for everyone."
The two plan on going to California to get their children and to come back to Fort Hood to get them ready for school after the winter break. The last time the two saw their children was during their Rest and Relaxation vacation where they spent it with their children in Southern California back in August
Although there were separation issues, Jennifer said her children well, and she added that the first deployment helped them ease into the second one.
"I mean, what kid is happy with both their parents gone," she said of Hunter and Rylee."I think they did well; they're tough cookies ... and they had their grandparents help them out."