CAMP AL SALEM, Kuwait - The female Soldier sitting at a round table in the lounge area of the USO tent, April 5, at Camp Ali Al Salem, Kuwait tried to ignore the clock.

There were more than 30 Soldiers in tent watching movies, playing video games or using the free, 30-minute phone calls to call loved ones back home.

For Spc. Jasamine T. Emanuel, who is deployed to Afghanistan with the 525th Battlefield Surveilance Brigade, home was Fort Bragg and her loved one was supposed to be on his way to meet her.

The native of Red House, Va., said she was waiting two days for her husband Spc. Michael T. Emanuel, who is a Reserve Soldier mobilized with the Sky Dragons of the XVIII Airborne Corps' Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, to arrive from Camp Victory, Iraq.

For a while, she chatted with another female Soldier, but at 8:15 p.m., she was by herself again. Then, at 8:16 p.m., he walked in, dropped his assault pack on a chair next to her and said hello.
The Emanuels will be travelling to St. Andrew, Jamaica for their mid-deployment break, where Michael has Family, said Jasamine. To make this work, she is one of the last Lightning Brigade Soldiers to take her rest and relaxation leave.

Camp Ali Al Salem is the theater gateway for most Army units deploying to and from Iraq, Afganistan and Kuwait. The camp is a tired collection of tents, concrete bunkers and sanctioned vendors.

"In a year, 540,000 diferent people will process through here on not only deployments and redeployments, but R&R leave, emergency leave, temporay duty - anything that will take you in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan," said Sgt. 1st Class Paul J. Cottrell, who deployed with the XVIII Airborne Corps' Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, is the noncommisioned officer in charge of the Army laision officers cell at the camp.

The battalion is the corps command group, which is currently operating at the military operations echelon for U.S. Forces-Iraq, based at Camp Victory, but with elements and personnel throughout theater, he said.

Together with 27 other Soldiers, down from 40 just a few months ago, the LNO help keep the camp functioning as a transit point.

Another LNO is Staff Sgt. Jeremiah R. Sweet, who said he joined the Army in 2003 for the adventure.

Sweet takes care of distinquished visitors and handles special situations, such as emergency leave.

Although DV's at the camp stay in tents, their accomdations are not at Spartan as the bunks and lockers for the Joes, Sweet said. DV's are given wood-like wardrobes and nightstands and single beds.

"The toughest part of the job is dealing with taking Soldiers emergency leave," said Sweet, a 91B, wheeled vehicle mechanic.

Emergency leave is always a tragedy, he said.
Sweet said the most difficult case was a female Soldier who went home on emergency leave to attend her mother's funeral. "On her flight back to theater, her father died and I had to go out on the tarmac and give her the news," Sweet said.

When he was asked about the Emanuels, he smiled. "Oh, you met them' Believe or not, a lot of couples are able to meet up here." Then, he turned back to his email scanning for the next problem to solve.

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