Spc. Edward Mears sat atop the hill during the ceremony and silently watched his twin sons play in the grass. Deployment hasn’t been much to celebrate for his household.
"It’s tough," he said. "It’s tough on me. It’s tough on them. It’s tough on my wife. It’s tough on my daughter. These last 10 days have been like a breeze. They just went so fast."
Mears, a 36-year-old Tacoma resident, served with the 81st Brigade during its first deployment to Iraq in 2004-05. This time around is more difficult, he said, because his 4-year-old sons and 2-year-old daughter are old enough to realize their father will be gone.
And the 10-day leave just made it harder on everyone, he said.
"It just makes it harder for the family to say good-bye again. You’ve got 28 days where I’m gone, and then I’m back for 10 days. And they’re like, ‘Where did that come from?’
"It’s harder on them, and it makes it harder for me to say good-bye again."