R&R is ‘Chicken Soup for the 25th CAB Soul’

| November 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

WAIKIKI — Staff Sgt. Nathan Pierce, with Co. D, 2nd Bn., 25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, spends his R&R on the beaches, here, with wife Holly and their daughters. During his two-week leave, Nathan and Holly also renewed their wedding vows, celebrating more than 12 years of marriage. (Photo courtesy Holly Pierce)

Part One of a two-part series offers a glimpse at two special weeks

Capt. Richard Barker
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Regardless of a 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldier’s job and responsibilities, one thing is true for all — life is not easy.

Sure, deployed life may be better for some than others, but all Soldiers share the common ground of being separated from important things in their lives while deployed, here, and elsewhere in Afghanistan.

Perhaps this is why, from the day Soldiers arrive in theater, they begin counting down the days until they can momentarily return to a normal life: the day they can go on “rest and relaxation” with their families.

R&R stories shared by 25th CAB families are each a gem. They are stories that encompass the circle of life. They are stories so tender, that as a collection, they deserve the title, “Chicken Soup for the 25th CAB’s Soul.”

 

Spc. Shawn Knaus, Co. D, 3rd Bn., 25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, holds his baby daughter while home on R&R from his yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy Sara Knaus)

New Life

Spc. Shawn Knaus, with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th CAB, was scheduled to meet his wife, Sara, on R&R just in time for the birth of their fifth child. Sara, however, started experiencing contractions early. Too early.

The contractions lasted for 11 days, although they were all non-productive. On the twelfth day, Shawn flew home.

“I picked my husband up at the airport and went into labor that night. We guess she was just waiting for her daddy,” Sara said.

 

Renewed Bonds

For some, R&R is a time to celebrate and renew strong family bonds.

Holly Pierce, wife of Staff Sgt. Nathan Pierce with Co. D, 2nd Bn., 25th Avn . Regt., 25th CAB, was in a panic. Nathan’s R&R dates had changed two times, and now, with a sudden third change, he was coming home in early April — only she was not there.

“My daughters and I were in Florida for my sister’s wedding at that time,” Holly said.

Holly spent most of her trip stressing that she would not arrive home before her husband.

“I didn’t want to miss days, hours or even minutes with him,” she said. “I was on the phone with every airline trying to get a different flight home before him. I was able to get the change fees waived, but not a single ticket for the three of us was under $3,400.”

Nathan then was delayed in Afghanistan for an extra day, resulting in a cascade of events that made timing work out in their favor. Nathan was on schedule to arrive in Los Angeles about 45 minutes after the flight carrying Holly and their two daughters would arrive in Las Vegas. She and the children were set to arrive in Hawaii a little more than an hour before Nathan. To make the event even better, the children had no idea their daddy was coming home.

“We had a little over a two-hour layover in Vegas when I received a phone call from (my husband), and we talked for a few minutes,” Holly said. “He told me he was going to grab a bite to eat and would call me before we boarded.”

It was at this time that Holly’s youngest daughter, 2, began to run around a corner, causing Holly to chase after her.

“I stood up to go get her when she suddenly stopped, looking confused, and smiled,” Holly said. “Then, as I rounded the corner, there stood my husband.”

Nathan had managed to change his flight out of Atlanta so that he arrived in Las Vegas instead of Los Angeles. He was also booked on the same flight to Hawaii as his family.

“Made-for-TV reaction is an understatement,” Holly said. “The whole thing is a little bit of a blur because I was in shock. My husband said he was temporarily deaf from all of my screaming.”

At the gate, the airline cooperated and was able to get the entire family seated together.

“I hit a jackpot in Las Vegas and never had to spend a dime,” said Holly.

While home, Nathan was able to celebrate his younger daughter’s third birthday, and with Holly, they celebrated 12 years of marriage by renewing their vows on Waikiki Beach.

To top things off, Nathan was bumped from his return flight to Afghanistan and was able to spend one extra night with his family.

“After an overly tearful goodbye, needless to say, Las Vegas will always be a special place for us,” said Holly.

(Editor’s note: In Part Two of the series, Barker takes a look at the strength, adventures and new beginnings of other 25th CAB families.)

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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