CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Stepping off the bus at Camp Bastion, Air Force 1st Lt. Jamie Underwood looked around the near-empty terminal searching for her brother. Her body was exhausted, but her mind was overwhelmed with excitement. She feverishly looked around the terminal hoping to find his familiar face, her eyes hid by a pair of dark aviators.
Across the terminal, Marine Cpl. Tyler David stood against a metal rail waiting patiently for his sister to arrive. He too was anxious. David hadn’t seen his sister in nearly six months, just before she deployed to Afghanistan. He was worried combat might have “hardened” his sister. Underwood spotted David leaning on the rail and clasped her hands over her mouth in an attempt to hide her smile. She darted across the parking lot towards him, tears rolling down her face. David grabbed his sister and held her close to him. For a moment, the two stood there just holding each other and smiling.
“It was such a surreal feeling,” said David, an assistant patrol leader with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “It was very comforting because you don’t expect to see family or friends on a deployment. Being able to see my sister definitely made this deployment worthwhile.” Most families are typically separated for months at a time during deployment; however, Underwood has been remarkably lucky. Over the course of her deployment she has been able to see several family members. “My aunt and cousin are also here,” said Underwood, a liaison officer with 495th Expeditionary Intelligence Squadron. “I haven’t gotten to see my cousin, because he is in the northern region of Afghanistan, but I did get to see my aunt and baby brother which is a huge morale booster.” It is hard deploying out here to Afghanistan because you are so far away from home with no family and friends to help you cope with anything, said Underwood. She added being able to see her family is like bringing a little piece of home with her. Since it was such a unique situation, both of their respective units encouraged them to meet and spend time with one another. “I can’t thank my commanders enough for giving me the opportunity to hang out with my little brother,” said Underwood. “They told me they would do everything in their power to ensure I got to meet up with my brother here, and that means a lot to me.” David said he was also thankful to his command for giving him a chance to spend time with his sister before he moved to his forward operating base. “I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my deployment,” David said. “I thought I wouldn’t be able to see my sister until I came back from Afghanistan. It just made everything that much easier.”