Assignment Afghanistan: Aggie Keeps in Touch with Texas Family

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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN Aggies have a long-standing tradition of service to the nation, and that's continuing with the war in Afghanistan. The desire to serve hasn't changed, but the way to keep in touch with home has.

As Army Reserve Major William Craig prepared to make one final flight into a war zone along with his fellow soldiers from the 31st Combat Support Hospital out of Fort Bliss, Texas, what he was leaving behind in Salado weighed heavy on his mind.

"We're about mission and doing our jobs as soldiers, so I'm excited to have the opportunity, but it is hard to leave, hard to leave kids and my wife," he said in Manas Kyrgyzstan, minutes from his flight. "They're very supportive."

Along with a wedding ring, the Aggie ring for the Class of 1989 graduate with a public administration degree represents a lot as well.

Asked what of A&M was going to war, he said, "I think the Aggie traditions, the pride of being an Aggie, the pride of serving, the tradition of the 12th Man. All of those things, to me, play into my role as a soldier."

While Bagram was the end point for Craig's colleagues, the major ended up about a hundred miles away in Kabul as a liaison between his unit and headquarters.

Before work each day, Craig makes it a point to call home to wife Leigh Ann.

"I am a much more happy and positive person when I get to see my wife once a day, so I think my demeanor and attitude -- you shape that yourself, but I think my demeanor and attitude every day are a little brighter once I get to see my wife," he said.

"Skype is great," Leigh Ann added. "Sometimes we lose the signal, but generally we can get it back. It's just good to be able to see his face and talk to him.

"It almost seems like he's sitting in the room with me, so it's wonderful to be able to see and talk to him face to face."

Technology has changed the weight of separation on service members' families. Major Craig's father spent the first year of his son's life serving in Vietnam. Mom sent movies of little William to that war front.

"That was an event each month when he got those eight millimeter movies because everybody shared everything when you're deployed," he remembered. "That's the way he kept up with me was through those eight millimeter movies as I grew during the first year of my life.

"I've got Skype now, so my generation, we've got Skype and Facetime and email, so it is a different world, but the same principle. You just stay connected."

A connection that keeps families strong when strength is needed the most.