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Home for the holidays

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By CALEB SEDLAK

Having a parent deployed overseas is a burden by itself. It is even harder when that parent is gone during the holidays.

Here are the stories of three local young people — including me — whose fathers have been deployed overseas in the last two years.

Carl Bauer has lived in Elizabethtown for about two years. Before that he and his family lived in Clarksville, Tenn. His dad has been in the Army about 20 years; he has spent the last two to three months at Fort Hood, Texas, preparing to deploy, but was able to come home for Thanksgiving.

While he was home for Thanksgiving, the family visited the grandparents and spent time together at home playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on Xbox 360 and watching movies.

At the time, Bauer and his family didn’t know if his dad would be home on or before Christmas before being deployed to Iraq.

“I would be sad,” Bauer said, if his dad didn’t come home. “My dad will be the best Christmas present that I got.”

Kevin Reilly has lived in four states. He has lived in Elizabethtown for more than five years but liked living in Hawaii best. He is 13, in the eighth grade at West Hardin Middle School and a tenderfoot scout in Boy Scout troop in 829.

Reilly’s dad was deployed for six months to camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, where he was chief of radiology. Reilly missed his dad, and life got more hectic back at home. But Reilly and his family found support through his mom’s close friends in the area.

It wasn’t until Reilly was 10 minutes away from the airport that his mom told him they were picking up his dad. He was coming home for the holidays.

Though it was too late that night, Reilly and his dad planned to test out all of his new presents.

“I don’t want my dad to be deployed ever again,” Reilly said.   

I’m Caleb Sedlak. I’ve lived in seven states and moved 11 times in my life. I’m 15.

I now live in Elizabethtown, am a home-schooled freshman and a life scout with Boy Scout troop 829.

Before we lived here we were stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Last year my dad was deployed to Qatar and Iraq for seven months, which isn’t as long as most deployments, but it was the longest I have gone without my father.

I never want that to happen again — to me or anyone else.

It is heart wrenching. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed because he wasn’t there.

It was hard, but my family got support from our church, Valley Creek Baptist Church, and camps such as Operation Purple in Indiana.

One day last November, a couple of days before Veterans Day, we found out Dad was on a plane coming home. We picked him up at the airport and went out to our favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.

I could not have gotten a greater gift for Christmas than him coming home for the holidays — to stay.

While it’s difficult for teens to be without a parent who is deployed overseas, it’s a challenge for the parents as well. Like my dad said, “No matter how hard you try, you can’t parent from 4,000 miles away.”

Caleb Sedlak is a freshman who is home schooled.