Army National Guard Deployment - Brett Anderson comes home

Active Duty - 04/23/2010

By Jim Kent
The Spring season is known for bringing warmer weather, sunshine and renewed life. This Spring, South Dakota Army National Guard members experienced the warmth of renewed lives with their families - and the sunshine that gathering brought to everyone involved - as they returned home from a year's deployment in Kuwait. We continue our series on the Anderson family and visit with Brett Anderson to ask what the Chief Warrant Officer learned about himself and his family during his time away.

The U.S. Army's theme song "The Army Goes Rolling Along" is a standard at most Army events. But Brett Anderson doesn't remember if that - or any music - was playing at the March 31 deactivation ceremony in Watertown for the South Dakota National Guard's 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery and 147th Forward Support Company.

"You know, I don't recall any music," says Brett. "There was no band there, no."

That didn't matter to Brett, though. Once the official roll-call was taken and comments were made by Governor Mike Rounds and various dignitaries, he had just one goal in mind.

"I didn't even change clothes," Brett says. "I left in my uniform. We were packed and in the car. Within 20 minutes we were on the highway headed to Pierre."

The previous few days had been a physical and emotional roller coaster - from getting word of when his unit would be leaving Kuwait, to the sudden temperature shift when they landed at a frigid Wisconsin airport, to the long - but poignant - bus ride through Sioux Falls and into Watertown. Brett says hearing a listener's dedication to the unit of "God Bless the U.S.A." on a local radio station let everyone know they were home.

"As overdone as this song is...Lee came on the bus as we were between Brookings and the Watertown exit," says Brett. "I could not believe..I'm not really an emotional person, typically...however, the entire community of Watertown lined the streets, the flags were out, a police escort all the way through town."

Then the unit arrived at the South Dakota Guard armory.

"And get off that bus, and instantly I see my son....Taylor, my 6-year old...all decked out in his little uniform," recalls Brett. "He got an Army combat uniform he wore. And he's got a sign 'Brett Anderson, Daddy'...all this stuff. So, it was an emotional time for everyone. Come off the bus and all your loved ones were there to greet you. It was really a great event."

Brett says his kids, Taylor and Ema, grinned from ear-to-ear when they saw him, while his wife, Michele, became pretty emotional.

"I was able to hold back through my...uh... years of military training," says Brett with a laugh.
"And being an officer, you have to," I comment.
"Yeah, I was...uh...setting the example," Brett adds.
"Yeah...right," I remark.

The Anderson's first stop on the road home to Rapid City was in Pierre for a brief visit to Brett's parents, and something Brett had longed for during all those days of chicken dinners in Kuwait.

"There's a great restaurant that I like in Pierre," says Brett. "A Mexican restaurant, Guadalajara's. Had to stop at that for lunch."

Apparently, Mexican restaurants don't exist in Kuwait. When the Andersons finally arrived at their house, and Brett was in his stay...for the first time in a year, he sat down on the sofa, watched TV and played with his kids.

"And what was on," I ask.
"I couldn't even tell you," Brett says, laughing. "It was background noise. Just the fact that it didn't have Arabic subtitles, I can tell you that."

That was a week ago. Today, Brett's alone with Taylor and Ema while Michele is on the road for a few days with her job. So, how's that going?

"I'm not spun up quite on their schedule yet," Brett explains. "Ema had dance class this morning and, uh...Michele leaves me notes...some instructions. You know, I'm not quite spun up on something so simple know, I had the kids go brush their teeth. Well, they don't quite put their toothpaste on the toothbrush...they decorate the sink with the toothpaste."

But Dad's catching on. He already knows that letting the kids share the bed with him will result in serious back pain in the morning.

As we relax in the Anderson living room, Brett says he feels his time away has brought him and Michele closer together. It's also made him more appreciative of his family. As for Brett's personal development, his goal was to do his part in the mission. That's been accomplished.

"I had this, uh....I don't know what it is...this unquenchable thirst that I had to do this...for personal reasons," says Brett. "And I...on the personal side, have the satisfaction of knowing that I did everything I could do at the time. I haven't left anything back. I've given all I can give. And so that, does make me feel better. And it does, uh, let me relax a little bit more."

Once he's back at the office, perhaps. But while Brett's at home, the Anderson troops are keeping him on his toes.

We'll visit with the Anderson family in the Fall for the last story in the South Dakota Guard deployment series.


Taylor, Brett and Ema Anderson

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