Faces From the Front for December 14, 2009 - Maj. Judy Sallerson
Current Unit: Engineer Equipment Officer
Current Position: 16th Engineer Brigade
Component: Ohio National Guard
Current Location: Camp Liberty, Iraq
Hometown: Canton, Ohio
Years of Service: 19
On the first night of Hanukkah, as the sun was setting in Iraq, Maj. Judy Sallerson prepared to celebrate with her family via Skype from Camp Liberty. After watching her sons open their gifts, Sallerson’s husband and children lit the candle on the Menorah and she prayed. These events marked the Soldier’s first Hanukkah spent away from her family.
In Iraq, Sallerson is serving as an Engineer Equipment Officer with the 16th Engineer Brigade. Sallerson’s unit is charged with educating the Iraqis on executing engineering and construction projects so that they will be prepared to take over these responsibilities when the unit leaves.
While it was difficult for the Soldier to spend the holiday away from her family, she knows the work she is doing is essential for turning over control to Iraq. “We are building a great foundation for the Iraqis to take over when we depart,” the Soldier said.
The gifts Sallerson’s family sent made it feel a little more like Hanukkah for her, as did the support she received from fellow Soldiers. “Some of the guys found out that I didn’t bring a Menorah and they made one for me out of extra PVC pipe,” Sallerson explained. Sallerson’s community back home also made her holiday a little brighter.
“The out pouring of support has been absolutely amazing throughout the holiday season, we’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of packages and books and letters from classrooms and churches. We absolutely love the support that we’ve gotten from home and it really makes the time go by faster.”
While it is hard for the Soldier to be apart from her family, Sallerson views her deployment as an opportunity to teach her sons about dedication. “Even though I am away from my children, I am able to teach them the value of commitment and sacrifice as they are sacrificing, too.”
Sallerson’s deployment has also been a reminder for the Soldier about the significance of spending time with her family. “My time away has made me realize how important my family is and how much more quality time I will spend with them when I am home. We sometimes rush throughout life waiting for the next big event, and sometimes all we need to do is go for a walk as a family and talk about our days.”
To her husband and two sons back home in Canton, Ohio, Sallerson sent a special message. “I love you all and I’ll see you when I get home in a few months.”
Sallerson and her unit are slated to return in August 2010.