By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Christmas will be a little different for some Northeast Mississippi soldiers this year.
Instead of escorting convoys, organizing personnel or trading fire with insurgents in Iraq, military personnel like Sgt. Kayla Wilson and her husband, Robert, will be opening presents with family and friends.
The Wilsons were part of a deployment that involved thousands of Mississippi soldiers who were sent to Iraq in 2009. Those soldiers spent their holidays, including Christmas, in a hot desert.
Like many soldiers, it was hard on the Wilsons to leave their three children behind. It was especially hard for the Wilsons because both parents were gone for Christmas.
While Kayla was handling personnel issues in Iraq with the 1st 198th Cavalry, Robert running convoys. The children were in Plantersville with relatives.
“Most of the time one parent is left home, but in our case, we both were deployed at the same time,” said Kayla. “Robert had been deployed during Christmas before but this was my first time and it’s hard for a mother to leave her children.”
Master Sgt. Kelvin Ingram was deployed with the 155th Brigade Combat Team last Christmas in Taji, Iraq. Ingram got married just before his deployment and did not get to have the honeymoon he and his wife expected.
“It was not a good feeling spending that first Christmas apart from my wife,” said Ingram. “It’s hard enough being gone, but being gone for a year away from your family is just unbearable at times. And doing it with a new wife and not being home for Christmas is even worse.
“But this year we are making up for it all. It just feels good being here with the people who love you.”
Most soldiers get to call home for Christmas, but George Winters didn’t even have that luxury last year. Winters, a soldier with the 155th, was on a mission in Tikrit, Iraq, on Christmas Day and didn’t get to talk to his wife and kids.
“A lot of people think the combat is the hard part of being away, but it’s the being away from family that’s hard,” said Winters.
Wilson and Ingram said they are still adjusting to life at home but both said this Christmas feels a little bit different, a little more special. Robert is currently training North Carolina, but will be home for Christmas.
“I’m going to do my best to make this the best Christmas for us,” said Ingram. “I can’t get last year’s back but I can make this one a good one.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.