Unable to see her son before he leaves for his third deployment, Rebecca Huston honors her son by telling the story of how, Sergeant Timothy Ryan Huston, Combat Medic, United States Army, became a soldier. Thank you Becky for raising this exceptional young man.
My Son, the Soldier
By Rebecca Huston
From the time he knew what the Army was, Tim told me he was going to join. When he was little, he only played with G.I. Joes. I’d find them hanging all over my house; hiding in the corners of the dining room, looking out from behind the coffee pot in the kitchen, or holding onto the branches of the few plants in my living room.
“Don’t touch my G.I. Joes,” he’d tell me before he went for a nap.
“Leave my G.I. Joes alone, Mommy, they’re getting ready for a battle,” he’d say when I got ready to sweep on cleaning day.
“I’m going to join the Army when I get big,” he’d tell me over and over again.
When Tim was eleven years old he went to a flea market with his grandparents. He came home with two pairs of Army fatigues complete with the soldier’s name on them. Each day after school he’d change into those Army fatigues and run out the door to play in the woods with his three older brothers and boys in the neighborhood.
“I’m going to join the Army,” he kept telling me. “When I’m old enough, I’m going to join.”
In high school, Tim became very involved with riding one of the two horses we kept in our little barn. Okay, I thought, maybe he’s ready to leave his “I’m going to join the Army” plan.
Then football became a passion along with his horse. When Tim reached sixteen, he put his sights on buying a 1989 red Ford Mustang with the money he earned working at our local McDonald’s. Soon a girl named Jamilyn began to occupy his time.
“ Finally,” I thought, “no more Army talk,” as I blew out a sigh of relief.
One day, a couple months before graduating from high school, Tim came to me stating he’d figured out what he wanted to do with his life.
“Great”, I said, “What is it?”
“I want to become an emergency room nurse……and I’m going to let the Army pay for it!”
I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t heard Tim talk about the Army in maybe five or six years. Where did this come from?
“Tim, are you sure?” I asked.
“I want to help people and you know I’ve always wanted to join the Army. I’m going to do it, Mom.”
A week, maybe two weeks later, Tim made his way to the Army recruiter’s office. He’d told me that if the Army wouldn’t take him as a medic he wouldn’t enlist. He was gone all day.
When he came home that afternoon, Tim told me that he’d passed all the physical tests along with the test to qualify him as a medic. The problem was his “anxious” blood pressure level. When it dropped after spending the whole day in that recruiter’s office, they signed him up.
After graduating from high school in June, Tim got married to Jamilyn in July and at the end of August boarded an airplane for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. There he was transformed into a soldier in the United States Army.
I was so proud when we arrived at Fort Leonard Wood for Tim’s basic training graduation. Every hair stood up on my arm and I had goose bumps, when I heard the heavy boot steps and the echoes of each soldier responding to the reveille calls of their commanding officers.
Each soldier looked the same as they moved past me. Then I saw him, my son, the soldier. He looked so different; strong, muscular, focused, jaw set, and eyes looking straight ahead at his drill sergeant. I wept when we went through his graduation ceremony; hearing story after story of all the drills these new recruits had to go through. Then we watched a video of the days Tim spent learning and growing to become a soldier.
“There’s my son”, I said as they showed them lined up for role call.
“There’s my son”, I said as I caught the picture of him holding his gas mask in one hand as he entered the gas chamber without it on.
“I can’t believe you did that to my son in order to bring him through his basic training. Oh God……what’s next for my son, the soldier?” I cried out under my breath.
The next day after boot camp graduation Tim boarded a bus that took him to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas where he spent six weeks being trained as a combat medic. Then another order came for a transfer to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Tim and Jamilyn didn’t have much time together as newly weds. Before they could celebrate their first anniversary, Tim was deployed to Iraq where he tended to the needs of his unit through a clinic outside Kirkuk. His tour lasted only four months. This unit was coming home. And home Tim came, too.
After spending about seven months together, Tim received orders for a second deployment. Five weeks after his little baby girl was born, Tim along with his unit deployed once again to Iraq. This second deployment base was located just North of Baghdad.
On the morning of their first mission off the base, IED’s were discovered buried across the driveway leading out of the base. “The enemy” was wasting no time in welcoming this unit to their country.
One of Tim’s first missions was patrolling a street in Baghdad. Tim was approached by an Iraqi Mom and Dad who recognized him as a medic. They had with them their little five-year-old daughter. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. They couldn’t afford the treatments that might heal her. So when the saw a U.S. Army medic they asked Tim through an interpreter,
“Do you have medicine in your medical bag that can make our daughter well?”
The reality of this family’s life in Iraq came down on him. Tim had just left behind his own five week old daughter.
“No”, he responded….”I’m sorry, I don’t have the medicine that will keep her alive.” This is my son the soldier.
Another day, Tim was in a convoy of Humvees traveling down the most dangerous cargo route in and out of Baghdad. He was in the second Humvee. A soldier, who had become his friend was in the first Humvee leading the convoy. Before Tim’s eyes, his friend’s Humvee hit a land mine. Before his eyes, Tim saw the Humvee explode. When he got to the wreckage, Tim found his friend. He tried to work on him, but on the forty – five minute truck ride to a base hospital Tim’s friend died. This is my son, the soldier.
Half way through his fourteen month tour Tim got to come home for a twenty-day leave. How good it was to see him, to hold him, to love and feed the thinner, tired looking man who left my home after graduating from high school over two years ago.
“Lord, let our days go by slowly. Please, Lord, let these days be so sweet.” I prayed.
Twenty days later, Tim left to go back to Iraq. Once again, Tim began his work as a combat medic. Wherever his unit went, he went. When they went out on three-day missions, Tim went too. When they responded to tips of houses full of explosives, Tim also carried his weapon, guarding those who would canvas the area before setting fire to the house, destroying the enemy’s bombs.
Day in and day out, Tim and his unit worked with the Iraqi army striving to teach them how to defend and fight for their freedom against terrorists. Time and time again, they would train these men only to see them flee in fear when coming face to face with the enemy. Frustration consumed my son and those he served with.
As Tim’s fourteen-month tour of duty drew closer to it’s completion, Tim went out on his very last mission. New soldiers had arrived to take over the work that Tim’s unit had been doing. On this mission, Tim was driving a Humvee full of soldier when he hit a land mine. The explosion was loud. Loud enough to put a ringing in their ears and hard enough to crack the Humvees windshield. This time, that was the only damage they sustained. Finally, Tim’s fourteen-month tour was over, and he returned home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
A few months later, Tim was reassigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he had basic training, to work in the Army base hospital as a medic. He began to take on- line classes pursuing not an emergency room nurse degree, but under the recommendations of his Iraq commanding officers, a physician’s assistant degree. For two and a half years Tim processed what he had lived during his second tour to Iraq.
Once again, Tim received new orders to report for duty at Fort Carson, Colorado in 60 day and to be prepared to deploy for Afghanistan shortly after he arrived. Tour number three looms on the horizon.Tim packed up his family and moved to Colorado. They lived in a hotel for three weeks, as they searched for a house to rent. They then waited another two weeks for their furnishings to arrive from Missouri. Tim went through Afghanistan readiness training and still awaits his upcoming deployment.
Why does he stay in the Army? Why does he put himself and his family through this? Because he has a heart that longs to help people, and from the time Tim was little, he told me he was going to join the Army.
As I was out shopping this Christmas, my cell phone rang. It was Tim.
“Mom, I got my deployment date. I’m supposed to ship out January 5th or 6th. The unit has lost seven medics. I’m going to replace one of them.”
“How many more times, Lord?” I asked.
Fervently trying to find a flight to visit Tim before he deployed, I soon realized I couldn’t afford one on such short notice. The reality that I wouldn’t see my son off on his third deployment tore my heart in two.
“What can I do, Lord? What can I do to show my son how much I love him, how very proud I am of him and his service to our country?”
Two ideas filled my mind. My first idea was to decorate a pine tree in my driveway with red, white, and blue twinkle lights and keep the tree lit until Tim and his unit return home in June! My other idea was to tie a red, a white, and a blue ribbon on a tree at the beginning of my driveway, so that my neighbors would know that my son, the soldier was deploying again. Once I had tied up my tree, I began to contact each of my family members and each of them took strands of the red, white and blue ribbon to tie on a tree in front of their homes to support Tim as well.
Tim is only one of the thousands of men and women who are or have been a part of our nation’s war against terrorism. These lights and ribbons are for them too—for your sons, your daughters, your husbands, your wives. For them, I commit my prayers and my thanks for they too are like my son, the soldier, Sergeant Timothy Ryan Huston, Combat Medic, United States Army.
“Because he loves me” says the Lord, “I will rescue him, I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14