70th Trans returns from one year in Iraq

Alex Harrington
21st Theater Support Command

There were plenty of hugs, kisses, and tears to go around for members of the 70th Transportation Company, who returned after serving nearly a year to support operations in Iraq.

More than 200 family members gathered Jan. 6 at Coleman Barracks gymnasium, Mannheim, to reunite with their loved ones. However, for both the family and deployed Soldiers, the deployment presented

Those left behind, especially the spouses, had to raise their children on their own.

Chaplain (Maj.) Henry McCain, 70th Trans Co., said a parent left alone faces a significant challenge of being a single parent.

“We see single parents, on occasion, in the military and we don’t know what they go through on a daily basis,” Chaplain McCain said. “My wife had the opportunity of being a single parent, and she felt like a tag-team member in a wrestling match, while one tag-team member is leaving and the other is left to fight on her own.

“When there aren’t two [parents] at home, there is significant stress added to the daily responsibilities of taking care of children,” Chaplain McCain added.

According to the experts, children usually feel sad when a parent must be away.

“A child’s age will affect how he or she is likely to respond. Infants can, for example, sense a parent’s absence; toddlers can feel distress, even if they are not able to verbalize it,” said Chuck Smith, Kansas State University Research and Extension family life specialist.

Smith also emphasized that children might fear that a parent may not return or that the parent will in some way be different when he or she does return.

“Signs of a child’s distress may include sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits, or acting out. At times, a child may panic,” he said.
Another challenge for those left behind is communication.

Chaplain McCain said open communication is imperative when two people are apart for a considerable amount of time.

“It is very important that both spouses keep good communication and what I mean is written communication via e-mail or letter,” he said.

Christina, whose husband is Capt. Timothy Zetterwall, 70th Trans Co. commander, said she focused on important fundamentals in their communication.

“We kept telling each other, ‘I love you,’” said Christina, adding “as well as basing our communication on trust and honesty.”

“The toughest part [for me] is being away from my family and friends,”
Captain Zetterwall said. “What’s more” he added “I missed seeing my son take his first steps…then walking…and doing the things a child does their first year…you never get that time back.”

The Soldiers of the 70th Trans Co. left for Iraq on Jan. 22, 2005 to relieve the 308th Transportation Company in Kuwait.