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1457th Soldiers Settling Into Family Life

1457th Soldiers Settling Into Family Life

Posted - May 3, 2004 at 9:51 p.m.



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Samantha Hayes reporting As photos of Americans mistreating Iraqi prisoners send shock waves around the world, a Utah soldier, barely back from the war zone, says there is still a lot of good being done in that country and a lot of gratitude for the American presence there.

"They were glad for their freedom, that we had kicked Saddam out. For the most part, they were glad we were there," he says.

Emotions are quite high for those soldiers after being reunited with their families. But little by little, they are settling into family life.

Samantha Hayes has one family's story.

Soldiers in the 1457th Combat Engineer Battalion have been fixing and repairing roads and bridges for 15 months. They return to long "to do" lists in their own homes. But the first priority is just spending time together.

Inside, the bathroom floor needs fixing.

Boyd Hawkes 1457th Engineer Battalion: "Can an engineer fix that? I don't know if an engineer can, but a carpenter can. I was just a supply guy."

For 15 months, Boyd Hawkes supplied the First Armored Division with anything they needed. Now it's all about what his family needs.

Jana Hawkes/ Wife: "There were days I didn't know if I could go one more day, do this one more time, you know. Take care of these kids, or take care of this house. Everything fell on me."

Boyd Hawkes: "She'd say, 'I can't wait until you get hoem and you have to deal with these kids.' And it's like, 'Please! That's just what I want to do!'"

While he was away the grass grew longer.

Jana Hawkes: "There was one time when I dare say my lawn was six inches high."

And the kids got taller. And lots of special moments have come and gone. Siri, 5, is riding her bike without training wheels. Jesse, 17, is about to graduate from boot camp. His goal is to become a 1457th engineer...just like Dad.

Jesse Stone/ Son: "I saw his battalion and what he's doing, and it's something I wanted to do."

And 9 year old Taylor just wants a lot of hugs.

More than a year away from each other makes normal life seem pretty sweet.

Boyd: "I miss that so much, having to make breakfast and get the kids ready for school."

Now, after 15 months away, they can prepare on this school night together.

The rest of the 1457th is due at the Air National Guard Base on Wednesday.

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