Joy blooms in Job household
Seattle Times staff reporter
You could pretty well gauge Debbie Job's emotion by the number of exclamation points she used in a quick e-mail to family and friends last week: 10.
Two in "Aaron called this morning at 5:20 a.m. and he's in Kuwait!!"
Two more in "Thank you Jesus!!"
Three in "Awesome!!!"
And three in closing: "You all have a great day! I will!!"
Relief, joy and gratitude have dominated the Jobs' world since the Issaquah family learned their son, Marine Cpl. Aaron Job, has completed a second deployment in Iraq and will soon be headed back to the United States.
Job, who turned 21 in September, had been in Iraq since last July with the 2,200-member 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego.
Even the family's expectation that Job (pronounced JOBE) may face a third combat deployment before his current commitment to the Marines ends next year didn't diminish the family's delight with the call that woke up Debbie Job, along with her husband, Eric, and daughter, Kelsie, 17.
"When the phone rings at that time of the morning, I think, 'It's got to be Aaron,' " said Eric Job, 53. "And if it's Aaron, he's alive."
During this Iraq stay, Job's unit spent much of its time in the Najaf area, where an intense, three-week battle in August took the lives of seven Marines, including several Job knew well.
Job, himself, suffered a hand wound from shrapnel and was narrowly missed by a sniper's bullet, which hit another Marine in the foot.
But there were also many positive moments during the deployment. Many Iraqis thanked the Marines for being there; the unit renovated schools and clinics, dredged water canals and helped build six new markets, according to Marine officials.
For the Job family, though, worry was a constant — at times even more than when their son participated in the invasion of Iraq early in 2003.
"This time around, I was more concerned, because this whole guerrilla-war thing is really dangerous," said Eric Job.
Aaron Job was 19 and less than a year out of Skyline High School when he was near the front lines of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He spent five months in Iraq on that deployment.
Not long after coming home, members of his battalion got word they would be returning to Iraq with the 11th MEU. At the time, Job said he didn't feel right about being elsewhere while Marines he knew were still fighting and suffering casualties.
Last week's good news from Kuwait was not entirely unexpected. Since last fall, word has been that the Marine unit would likely head home after the Jan. 30 Iraq elections if circumstances allowed.
Debbie Job said election day was a peaceful one in Najaf. "Basically the Marines, a lot of them, stayed on their base and rested, and played and read. The Iraqis told them they wanted them to stay in the background because the Iraqis wanted to do their own security if they could — and it went well — and like 85 percent of the people in Najaf voted."
Eric Job had been braced for bad news. "We didn't know whether the entire country would erupt in civil war, or warfare and terrorism."
But early on the day of the election, the family got a phone call from Aaron, telling them things appeared to be going well. That day, Eric Job put up a sign in his yard, saying, "Congratulations, Cpl. Aaron Job. Today you helped free a country."
Yesterday morning, Debbie Job got another call from her son, wishing her a happy 47th birthday, and the two were able to talk for about 40 minutes.
By mid-March, if things go well, Aaron Job will be starting a leave of nearly a month.
The first members of the 11th MEU already have arrived back at Camp Pendleton. But Job volunteered to be in the "rear party," which is staying to clean up the unit's equipment and load it onto ships.
At the time he volunteered, his parents said, there was talk the rear party might come back aboard a ship, and Aaron liked the idea of getting to see a couple of ports along the way home. Instead, however, once their gear is loaded onto ships, the Marines will fly back to the U.S.
One thing Aaron Job will notice when he gets home to Issaquah is the work that his dad has done on Aaron's 1996 Honda Civic, which has more than 120,000 miles on it. Eric Job cleaned the car inside and out, had the engine detailed, put on new wheel caps and made several minor repairs.
Looking to the future, the Jobs realize that not only is it possible that Aaron will face combat again, but that his brother, Ryan, 23, who is nearing the end of his Navy SEAL training, may also.
"This is our life now," Debbie Job said. "The boys are in the military and we're in a wartime. And I cannot expect that they won't go. ... I think that probably next year it won't surprise me a bit if they are both deployed at the same time."
If and when that happens, she will look for support from her faith, her family and friends and the bond she has developed with other Marine moms, including a group that meets once a month.
"We are always there for one another," said Debbie Job, who has attended memorial services for six Marines and one Army soldier.
Eric Job said having a son at war won't ever be easy, but the prayers of people who care about Aaron give him strength.
"We just have to take it one day at a time," he said, "and we're thankful for every day that he's been safe."
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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