News: Why we serve
Story by Spc. Maran Hancock
CAMP BUERHING, Kuwait - Spc. Maran Hancock is a Paralegal Specialist assigned to the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps
Long before I learned of my deployment assignment, I had firsthand knowledge of the intestinal fortitude that is involved with putting an ocean between oneself and one's everyday life to further a cause that is infinitely larger than any one person.
As a military spouse since 2008, I have seen my husband through a 15-month deployment and marveled at the dedication and resiliency I saw from him during that time. Upon his return, I was in awe of the stories of teamwork that he and his battle buddies told me and the camaraderie that was still very pronounced amongst them. My abiding respect for their accomplishments, and their obvious bond, played heavily into my decision to join the Army.
I shipped to Basic Training in February 2012, and by mid-July, I arrived at my first duty station, Fort Gordon. My husband was slated for a yearlong tour in Afghanistan and was due to depart in September. I figured there would be several difficulties involved with settling into a new profession while maintaining a two-person household, but I wasn’t prepared for the news I received a week before I saw my husband off.
I was told I was being assigned to a deploying battalion, 67th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), and I would likely be gone before the end of the year.
Although I knew that the possibility of a deployment should never be discounted, I was still shocked to be going so soon after the completion of my initial entry training. Initially, I felt like I was grossly unprepared to face the challenges I would find on the other side of the world, and there was no shortage of questions that popped into my mind.
However, as I spent more time getting to know others in my new unit, I learned to push through and accentuate the positive, even in light of my many anxieties. I felt confident that I would be able to establish my role in the battalion fairly quickly after our arrival, because I knew that I would have solid guidance from my leadership and emotional support from my newfound friends.
I used my block leave time during the Thanksgiving holiday to see my family in Utah. I had not been able to attend Thanksgiving dinner in my hometown in more than five years, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time at my home. I still missed my husband terribly, but other than his absence, my block leave was a special time to further establish the bonds I share with my loved ones. Throughout my visit home, they reiterated over and again that they were fully supportive of me and would do everything they could to stay in touch during my deployment.
As I waited in the line for airport security, watching my younger brother fade into the crowd, I was surprised at the absence of the usual sinking feeling I experience when I part from my family members. Instead, I felt strong, motivated, and generally ready to take on my new assignment.
After I returned from block leave, preparations for the deployment seemed hectic. I had to make arrangements for my pets, figure out what to do with my home and vehicles, cancel my utilities, and make arrangements for existing bills. Honestly, I felt overwhelmed, and I was still taking care of things up to the last minute. However, all’s well that ends well, I suppose, because I was able to complete all my tasks.
The day we left for Kuwait was one that was rife with emotion. Although I had said my goodbyes to my friends and family well ahead of the unit's deployment ceremony, I found myself wholly unprepared for how I would feel when I saw the show of support of those who came to see us off. It was difficult to remain stoic in the face of sights such as a little girl wandering into the formation looking for "Daddy" or a coworker's wife hurrying to her husband for a last tearful embrace. I thought about all the people I saw at the ceremony throughout the whole plane ride, ruminating on the outpouring of affection that our unit received.
Upon arrival in Kuwait, life started to move quickly. This being my first deployment after such a short time in the Army, I was facing a multitude of situations that were uncertain, and I was filled with trepidation. Staying busy was key for me, because I had very little time to dwell on the fact that I miss my husband, family, friends, and generally, my life back at home.
However, now that I am here, I am gaining more confidence by the day. I am starting to find my place in the unit, and – bolstered by the support of loved ones from afar and comrades who are here with me – I feel like I will eventually be able to learn a great deal and excel as a soldier.
Slowly, I am learning that any sacrifices I make are what will contribute to my goal of becoming the kind of soldier that I so admire, a soldier like my husband. Home is wherever you find yourself at the moment, and the support you seek will follow you there. Until I return to the United States, for now, I’m right at home in 67th ESB.