Name: Sgt. Albert Burns
Home town: Soldotna
I am a member of Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry and have been deployed since July 2006, first to Shelby, Miss., for training and then to northern Kuwait. As a civilian, I work for Crowley Marine and expect to return home this fall.
I don't like the desert. It's hot, miserable, and I don't understand why anyone would live in it. I've spent more than 30 years in Alaska, and there is a reason Alaska is my home. When I stepped off the plane in Kenai in July during leave it was 58 degrees, I was reminded why Alaska is home.
One big thing I miss about home is the smell of saltwater. In Kuwait, you can be five feet from water and you can't smell it. At home I live within walking distance of the river and you can smell the ocean and the water. I just really miss that.
Professionally, my time in Kuwait has been good for me. What I've learned I can take back home and it will make a difference in my military career as a supply sergeant or in any career field.
My three children are daddy's kids and I am very much part of their lives, so being gone this long is really hard. When I came home on leave, they didn't leave my side the whole time I was home. It was kind of hard to get time with my wife, Laura, but it worked out. Seeing the changes that have taken place with my children has been the most difficult part of this deployment.
For my wife, Laura, there have been many frustrations because she has had to deal with aspects of our lives that I normally handle when I am home. It hasn't been easy for her.
My 9-year-old, Lavender, is taking my absence fairly well. She's said she is proud of her daddy. We are helping people over here, is the way she perceives it. I am also a firefighter and EMT so the idea of helping someone else is a good thing to her and of course I don't tell her anything different. I want her to have her own ideas about what she sees and what she hears. That's part of growing up.
My youngest, Alden, just knows I am gone and doesn't quite understand the concept of time. Loren, 6, has the hardest time because he is just beginning to understand the concept of time but he doesn't understand why I am gone. I missed his first full year of school.
Towns on the Kenai Peninsula are small with small-town mentalities. If your vehicle breaks down, someone is going to stop and help you out. It doesn't matter if you are their neighbor or they've never seen you before.
Even knowing this, the amount of support we've received has been almost overwhelming. From the mayor of Kenai sending fresh baked cookies, to school kids sending letters, to the mayor of Soldotna sending letters, all the gift packages, we have been well taken care of.
Knowing that people back home haven't forgotten their soldiers has helped us get through this deployment. So the most important thing is to thank all the people that have remembered us and our families.
We really appreciate everything.
Staff Sgt. Mac Metcalfe is the public affairs noncommissioned officer stationed in northern Kuwait with the 3rd Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard.
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