Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 6, 2012

Plainfield soldier holds daughter for first time

Daddy’s home!

By Brenda L. Holmes
CNHI

PLAINFIELD — When SSG Nicholas Wall left on his third deployment nine months ago, he knew he’d be missing out on some big family events — including the birth of his daughter.

Wall, 32, is in the Army National Guard and is full time with the military. He has been in the military for 14 and a half years. He purchased a home in Plainfield several years ago.

For his third deployment, he was stationed in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.

"My job title is forward observer, but it was the role of my unit and the military in general to help the Afghans transition and stabilize as they prepare to take over the country," he said.

During this deployment, Wall worked with personnel from Australia, Singapore, and Slovakia.

“I worked with my Australian counterpart on a daily basis,” he said. “It was a true cultural coalition.”

His wife, Jenny, was between her fifth and sixth months of pregnancy when he left the country. She’s a flight paramedic and the day he was deployed was her last day to work.

“They day he left was the day of the tornados in Henryville in Southern Indiana,” Jenny said. “I worked a lot that day and realized that I could no longer work and be safe with my pregnancy.”

Wall said he remembers that day because he had a difficult time getting her on the phone for his last good byes.

“Here I was leaving the country and my wife had to go and witness all that devastation,” he said. “That was tough.”

Afghanistan was not his first tour of duty out of the country. He’d been deployed twice before — but that was before he had a family.

“I was deployed twice to Iraq,” Wall said. “I was in school to become a medic in 2003 when I was first deployed to the ground war.”

He said he had seen his fellow soldiers miss out of the births of their children and was really worried about how the baby would bond with him.

“We used Skype a lot,” he said. “Braden went through several phases during this nine-month deployment.”

Jenny and Nicholas also have a son, Braden, who is 2 1/2. At first, he thought talking to “daddy” was fun. Then he got kind of bored with the idea and wanted to play with his toys.

“Then in the middle he kind of rebelled,” Wall said. “When it was time for me to go, he would yell ‘no’ and get upset. That was difficult.”

Toward the end of the deployment, Braden decided he wanted nothing more than to talk to his dad via Skype. He would even take the iPad on rides around the house so he could show his dad what he was doing.

The Walls say the video chats helped their baby, Brooklyn, to know her father’s face and voice.

“There are no words to describe how I felt the first time I saw her,” Wall said. “I was worried I would lose it. But when the time came and she was there, I was kind of stunned. But she came right to me with a big smile on her face.”

He said he felt such relief during their reunion when she was giggling and being so comfortable in his arms.

“Back when the technology was not so good, guys missed the births of their babies and came home almost as strangers,” he said. “I was actually in the delivery room via Skype when Brooklyn was born. And getting that face time with the iPad really helped. I was kind of worried that she would just think I was some weirdo on the screen but it turned out to be really good.”

Jenny said she family and close friends here at home to help her get through the family’s separation.

“I had great support,” she said.

But despite that support, and the Internet face time, she’s just happy to have her husband back home safe and sound.

brenda.holmes@flyergroup.com