Deployed Soldiers have all kissed their families good-bye, and headed off to war with the expectation of learning to handle the constant heartache of missing their loved ones.
However, in a rare exception, two Soldiers in eastern Afghanistan have found unexpected relief from this typical situation by being assigned to the same location at Forward Operating Base Salerno in the Khost province.
U.S. Army Maj. Una Alderman, the chief nurse officer for the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, received deployment orders after her son had already been serving in Afghanistan.
“His [mailing] address said Salerno, and then I found out that was where I was going. I just couldn’t believe it,” she explained.
Her son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Seth Alderman, a military policeman with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, out of Alaska, was equally surprised.
“When I came here with 4-25 in March, she was on orders waiting to deploy, but we didn’t know where,” he said. “When I found out she was coming here, to Salerno, I just thought ‘Wow.’ It was a huge surprise to both of us.”
Seth works on Combat Outpost Sabari, just a few miles from FOB Salerno, and convoys between the two locations each month.
“Having her here really gives me something to look forward to when I come to Salerno,” he said.
While their close proximity is unique to the deployed environment, and provides a form of solace in the midst of war, it also enables more frequent visits than they have experienced in the U.S.“It is nice because I live in Wisconsin, and Seth lives in Alaska. We’ll be able to see each other on a more regular basis here, instead of every year-and-a-half,” Una said.
Both Soldiers said they have tremendous support from their colleagues, and other Soldiers are excited about their opportunity.
“There is a lot of joking around from my Soldiers, but there is also a level of respect. They think, who else’s mom is over here, really?” Seth said.
Combat brings a level of daily danger and with Una working in the hospital, and her son working on the ground, they each have had to face the possibility of continuing their jobs in an unfortunate tragedy.
“I am a mom, he is my son, so I do worry,” said Una.
Despite her motherly worry, Una, with help from others is able to focus on her mission.
“I have a lot of support from the colleagues that I work with, and we will do the job regardless,” she said.
Seth has a half-year remaining in his year-long deployment, and Maj. Alderman has just begun hers. They said they are appreciative of the time they will get to spend together, and are looking forward to the new level of camaraderie, as fellow Soldiers, as well as mother and son.
“I am really proud to be in the Army,” Una said. “The people I am here with are just outstanding Soldiers, so I think it is going to be a very good year, a very meaningful year. Besides my children, this is probably one of the most meaningful things I’ll ever do in my life, and adding that Seth is here, at least until February or March, it makes it that much better.”
Story by Pfc. Andrya Hill