News: Unlikely reunion in Kyrgyzstan before Alaskan wedding
Story by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan - It was a long shot; he knew his father lived in Bishkek, the capitol city of Kyrgyzstan, about 18 miles from here.
It had been four years since they last saw each other, hugged, or had a face-to-face conversation. The last time, was at his father’s wedding in 2009.
Hoyle Shaw Sr., an Army veteran, worked in Afghanistan for about seven years and took his rest period at what was then Manas Air Base, now the Transit Center at Manas. “My wife’s sister worked on base, she introduced me to my wife,” he said. Shaw has lived in Kyrgyzstan ever since.
Now it was Army Sgt. Hoyle Shaw Jr.’s turn; returning from Afghanistan where he was the 67th Military Police Company, 508th MP Battalion, 42nd MP Brigade’s noncommissioned officer in charge of training for a detention center. He spent seven months there and said he was ready to go home and get married to his fiancée, Spc. Hayley Prince, who was deployed with him in Afghanistan.
With oceans and miles between them, Army requirements and deployments, visiting each other was nearly impossible.
But, with a little help from airmen and leadership here, the impossible was about to become reality.
“It seemed unreal to finally get the OK, to be able to see my dad here; I was trying work a way for us to see each other for a few days, but kept running into road blocks,” said Shaw Junior. “After talking to the right people we were able to make it happen.”
This visit was especially exciting for Shaw Junior, as it would be the first time his dad would get to meet the future Mrs. Shaw.
“Hayley and I will be getting married when we get back to the states with her family in Alaska,” said Shaw Junior, a native of Raleigh, N.C. “I really wanted [my dad] to be able to meet her before it happened.”
The plan for the quartet to meet had been put into place for a few months; having been deployed as an former Army heavy equipment mechanic, Shaw Senior had previous knowledge of redeployment sites and was just waiting to hear from his son on when he arrived at the Transit Center at Manas.
“It’s exciting to be able to just see and hug him again; [video chat] just isn’t the same,” said Shaw Senior. “The last time I saw him he was in civilian clothes and just a skinny kid, he’s grown up so much since then. I’m so proud of him.”
Shaw Senior said he encouraged his son to join the military. Had it not been for that push, the time between visits might have been even longer.
“I’m glad he joined the military. If he hadn’t, we may not been able to see each other today,” said the father of three. “The military gives you so many opportunities in life; if it wasn’t for the military I probably wouldn’t be where I am today with my wife.”
Serving in the military brings some opportunities and some challenges. Shaw Junior was able to use one challenge, a deployment, and turn it into an opportunity of a lifetime he will remember for years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaw Junior and his fiancée will marry on New Year’s Eve. They will set up video on a laptop so Shaw’s father can still be a part of the ceremony.