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Face of Defense: Mother, Son Bond in Afghanistan

By Army Pfc. Andrya Hill
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan, Aug. 10, 2009 – Deployed soldiers always have kissed their families goodbye and headed off to war with the expectation of learning to handle the constant heartache of missing their loved ones. However, in a rare exception, a mother and her son have found themselves assigned here together.

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Army Maj. Una Alderman, chief nurse officer for the 452nd Army Reserve, from Wisconsin, tends to a patient at the hospital on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2009. She is stationed in the same area of operations as her son, Army Staff Sgt. Seth Alderman, a military policeman with the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Andrya Hill
  

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Army Maj. Una Alderman, chief nurse officer for the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, received deployment orders after her son already was serving in Afghanistan.

“His [mailing] address said Salerno, and then I found out that was where I was going,” the major said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Her son, Army Staff Sgt. Seth Alderman, a military policeman with the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Alaska, was equally surprised.

“When I came here with 4-25 in March, she was on orders waiting to deploy, but we didn’t know where,” he said. “When I found out she was coming here, to Salerno, I just thought ‘Wow.’ It was a huge surprise to both of us.”

Sergeant Alderman works on Combat Outpost Sabari, just a few miles from here, and travels in convoys between the two locations each month.

“Having her here really gives me something to look forward to when I come to Salerno,” he said.

Being deployed together gives mother and son the chance to visit more frequently than they do when they’re in the United States.

“It is nice, because I live in Wisconsin, and Seth lives in Alaska,” Major Alderman said. “We’ll be able to see each other on a more regular basis here, instead of every year and a half.”

Both soldiers said they have tremendous support from their colleagues, and other soldiers are excited about their opportunity.

“There is a lot of joking around from my soldiers, but there is also a level of respect,” Sergeant Alderman said. “They think, ‘Who else's mom is over here, really?’”

Combat brings a level of daily danger, and with the major working in the hospital and her son working on the ground, each recognizes the risks.

“I am a mom, he is my son, so I do worry,” Major Alderman said, adding that despite her motherly worry, she is able to focus on her mission with help from others.

“I have a lot of support from the colleagues that I work with, and we will do the job regardless,” she said.

Sergeant Alderman is halfway his year-long deployment, and his mother has just begun hers. They said they appreciate the time they will get to spend together, and are looking forward to a new level of camaraderie -- as fellow soldiers as well as mother and son.

“I am really proud to be in the Army,” Major Alderman said. “The people I am here with are just outstanding soldiers, so I think it is going to be a very good year, a very meaningful year.

“Besides my children,” she continued, this is probably one of the most meaningful things I'll ever do in my life, and adding that Seth is here, at least until February or March, it makes it that much better.”

(Army Pfc. Andrya Hill serves with the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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U.S. Forces Afghanistan
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U.S. Forces Afghanistan on YouTube

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Staff Sgt. Seth Alderman, a military police squad leader in the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, waits for his squad prior to a mission out of Combat Outpost Sabari in Afghanistan’s Khost province. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Steven Abadia  
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