This month, family members of soldiers in the 220th Transportation Company shared with The Sentinel stories about their lives while their loved ones were in Iraq.
Here, in their own words, they discuss the past year of deployment. Responses have been edited for length.
Melanie LeBlanc of Claremont, wife of Pvt. Paul LeBlanc, who was on his first deployment with the unit in Iraq:
“By the time (my husband) gets home in May, we will have seen him for a total of four months in (the past) two years. You see, he was at boot camp, then Advanced Individual Training, home for three months, then deployed.
“We are a mixed family; we have five kids total between us. We have four girls and a boy. The oldest is 10, then 8, then 7, then 2 and our boy is 10 months. It has been hard on the older girls; they love him so much they are scared for him every day and want him to come home.
“His daughter is 2 and she misses him and does not understand why he is not home. His son thinks he is just a voice on the computer. We do get to talk to him at least three to four times a week, but Internet is not reliable and we have to pay $75 a month for it.
“It is hard for all of us. However, we are all so very proud of him and all of our soldiers. So from a family that is missing their daddy and their husband every day for our freedom, please remember our soldiers every day, not just when there is a holiday for it.”
Heidi Boffitto of Concord, wife of Spc. Geoffrey Boffitto, who deployed in 2005 and 2010 with the unit:
“My husband’s first deployment came days after we were married. I lived at my parents’ house with our son, Jack.
“This deployment Geoff and I have three boys, Jack, 6, Eligia, 3 and Noah who just turned 2. We have our apartment and more things to take care of. Everything is harder being here without him as you would expect. Even taking out the trash with three little boys is hard: getting them all ready to go out to the Dumpster and then holding the trash bag and two little boys’ hands praying that they don’t decide to go for a run on our way there.
“I’ve learned that I can’t rely on my own strength but, I need to fully rely on God’s strength through this. I am so thankful that I have my parents and my husband’s parents living close by that help when they can.
“The boys and I miss my husband so much. We talk to him through Skype as much as we can and we also send Facebook messages and write letters, things like that. We had Noah’s second birthday with my husband on Skype.
“The boys know Daddy is at work, they have seen pictures of where he is at, they know it takes a long time to get there. We miss him with all our hearts, but we know we will all be together as a family again.”
Rev. Herb Hatch of Barre, Vt., father of Pvt. Peter F. Hatch:
“I have a framed picture taken of Peter when he was in Kuwait on his way to Iraq on my dining room table and a plaque beside it with a Bible verse from Isaiah 42:16 on it that means a lot to Peter: ‘Along unfamiliar paths I will guide you; I will turn the darkness into light before you and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake you.’
“Every day I wear a one blue star medal that Peter gave me at his commissioning ceremony in Massachusetts and tell those who ask why I wear it. There is a flag in our home front window with four stars on it; one star for each of our children, Herb, Ben, Peter and Martha, who wear a United States military uniform — three in the U.S. Army and one in the U.S. Air Force.
“Peter’s children, his wife, Missy, and three stepchildren live here in Vermont. We all miss him, even the dogs.
“It has been hardest on the children, although Missy feels very much alone. It helps that Missy and Peter are able to talk by phone most days, but she is doing the on-the-job-site parenting and running the house alone.”