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Student returns from Afganistan

by Brittany Yap, staff writer

Sgt. 1st Class Eric Baker, 38, returned home in February from a 10-month tour in Afghanistan where his job in supply logistics was to make sure every soldier was equipped and ready for his or her mission. A soldier in A. Co. 725th, he returned to his three lovely children, who he had waited so long to see, and his mother-in-law, who cared for the children. But one person was missing from his homecoming, his wife. She was deployed to Mosul, Iraq in September 2004.

“I never got a chance to see her before she left,” said Baker, who was already deployed at the time.

Their three children, 17, 10, and 4, have been under the care of their grandmother while the couple serves over seas.

“It seems like it’s not over yet,” said Baker. “There is always that possibility that I will have to go back.”

His wife, Staff Sgt. Cassandra Baker, also works in supply logistics and is part of the 17th Core Support Battalion (CSB). She is expected home in September.

“ Even though we were both gone, we somehow made it work,” said Baker.

The couple met in Virginia and both signed up for the Army right out of high school. Cassandra always wanted to come to Hawai‘i so they requested to be stationed at Schofield Barracks.

According to Baker, their 4-year-old boy took it the hardest and didn’t understand the situation. Before Baker left, they had a “family huddle,” and he told his kids not to cause any trouble at home and in school.

In Afghanistan, Baker slept in tents the entire deployment and never left the base. According to Baker, the military is trying to stabilize and support the country by working on Afghanistan’s economy. They are making sure the children have schools, concentrating on the people, and providing jobs to Afghan men.

Baker stayed healthy the entire deployment and spent his down time reading, going to the gym and attending church. His favorite meal came every Friday,”Seafood and Steak Night.” Baker recalled always looking forward to eating lobster, crab legs, and steak. He is grateful for his strong support system and said “If you don’t have support back at home, it’s hard. It makes a short day into a long one.”

“I respect the reserves and national guard,” said Baker. He knows that those soldiers could be doing something else and working at their regular job, but instead they are in the Middle East, supporting their country, and allowing active duty soldiers a longer stay at home.

As a student at HPU, Baker is studying human resource development and has three classes left until he graduates. His wife is studying computer science. Baker has one more year until he reaches 20 years and can retire from the military.

“I might go one more year after the 20 years,” he said. “We’ll see.”



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