By Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID PAO
BAQUBAH, Iraq (September 25, 2006) – Most Soldiers say goodbye to their loved ones before they board the plane to go to war. With the exception of two weeks during R&R, they do not get to see them again until they come home. Being deployed is a lonely and trying time for servicemembers.
Sgt. Beth DiLonardo, intelligence analyst, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning, is one of the lucky ones who got to spend time with her father in Kuwait while preparing to come to Iraq. Arthur DiLonardo and daughter Beth are natives from Bricktown, N.J., and Arthur is employed by the U.S. military to work on computer systems, which brings him to the Middle East frequently.
“It is pretty neat that of all the places in the world you can end up in, you end up in Kuwait and Iraq together,” Beth said.
Beth draws strength from her relationship with her father enabling her to get through the tough times of her deployment. Beth was quickly put to the test upon arriving in Iraq in December 2005 when her unit was baptized by insurgent mortar and rocket fire on Christmas Eve.
“It was surreal, we had gone through the training and heard the noises before, but now it is for real,” Beth said. “It was definitely a little shaky.”
Iraq was the first time in her Army career she was able to do her job in the field. Being a noncommissioned officer meant she has Soldiers looking to her for leadership and guidance. She frequently preaches the importance of balance in your job to personal relationships as the key to surviving a long deployment.
With her year-long deployment coming to an end soon, Beth will be returning to her home station of Fort Carson, Colo. She is looking forward to spending time with family and friends and revisiting Bricktown, where growing up she spent endless hours at the beach and boardwalk. He father still has a home there and she is comforted by the way the local community has not changed much since she left to join the Army at age 22.
Her time spent in Iraq has made her appreciative of the little things, like having your father close at the nearby airbase in Balad, Iraq.
“Things might not be as important as I thought they were,” Beth said reflecting on her deployment. “It made realize what I want and don’t want in my future.”