Spcs. Christopher Anderson and Jasmine Hamer before their deployment to Afghanistan. Photos courtesy Jasmine Hamer.
Spc. Christopher Anderson flew across the country Friday morning thinking he’d surprise the infantrymen he last saw seven months ago in southern Afghanistan when he lost a leg to an enemy mine. He figured he’d sneak up on them at their Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
Instead, Anderson found more than 40 of his fellow soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division waiting for him at Sea-Tac International Airport.
“It’s been a blessing. I’m glad to see they made it back,” Anderson, 22, said after the reunion.
Anderson is in town for just a few days. It’s his first trip to Lewis-McChord since the Army sent him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. for long-term rehabilitation.
His wife, Spc. Jasmine Hamer, engineered the surprise reunion over the past few weeks, reaching out to soldiers in his unit but encouraging them to keep quiet about it.
Hamer, 24, knew plenty of them. She served in Afghanistan with Anderson as part of a support unit attached to his infantry battalion.
Still, even she did not expect to see so many friendly faces when she and her husband came down an escalator and walked into a Sea-Tac USO lounge.
Anderson’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Gregory Harkins, made sure the troops could meet their wounded companion, Hamer said.
“It was exciting to see (Anderson’s) facial expression when they got there,” she said. “He was in shock.”
Anderson grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. and joined the Army two years ago. He was serving on his first deployment.
His unit, the 2nd Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, fought in a dangerous part of Kandahar Province. It lost four soldiers, and a few others were sent home with serious injuries. He’s proud of what they accomplished.
“My unit went in there and did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “They went in there and dominated the areas they were supposed to.”
Anderson said he received a prosthetic leg about four months ago. He said he’s making progress learning to walk, and he’s looking forward to running again one day.
He and Hamer were dating at the start of their deployment last spring. They talked about getting married, but figured they’d put it off until after their mission ended.
Hamer did not know Anderson was hurt on the day of his injury, June 12. She found out about his wounds when she called his mother.
Because they weren’t married, Hamer could not leave her assignment to care for him at Walter Reed.
“It kind of like tore me up because I knew that I wanted to be there, and he needed me there,” she said.
They found a way to get married through a proxy service in September. Soon afterward, Hamer managed to join her husband at Walter Reed.
She didn’t tell him when she left Afghanistan.
“I surprised him,” she said. “He didn’t even know I was coming, so I’m just full of surprises.”
President Obama visited Anderson at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.