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Mother and daughter await soldier's return

December 23, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Deanna Kline joked Sunday afternoon that she wasn't "he-woman" while recalling her experience with cutting down her own Christmas tree earlier this winter.

Kline said she and her 3-year-old daughter, Margaret, set out to the woods with a saw in search of the perfect tree.

After struggling to chop it down, hauling it home and spending time to decorate it, Kline, 32, said the tree didn't quite turn out to be what she intended.

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"Our tree is horrible-looking.

Kline usually picks out a tree with her husband, Maxwell "Jaime" Kline, and the family spends time decorating it.

But this year, Kline and her daughter are adjusting to the first Christmas without Jaime Kline, 33, who is a staff sergeant stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Incirlik, Turkey, and part of Operation Northern Watch.

The couple has been married for 13 years, and Jaime Kline has been in the military for a total of six years.

"It's kind of sad-looking," Kline said of the tree. "It doesn't have his touch."

Operation Northern Watch is charged with enforcing the no-fly zone in Iraq and monitoring Iraqi compliance with various U.N. Security Council resolutions, according to the United States European Command. The United States, United Kingdom and Turkey are participating in the operation.

Jaime Kline is an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force and a security forces member assigned to the 167th Security Forces Squadron at Shepherd Field at the West Virginia Air National Guard Base in Martinsburg, W.Va.

He was deployed on Nov. 15 and his projected return date is Feb. 19.

Deanna Kline said spending time with family at Christmas, as well as on regular days of the year, has always been important to her husband.

"It's been really difficult. It's been an adjustment for the whole family," Kline said. "The hardest part is when (she and Margaret) are alone. You just don't have that extra voice.

"Boy, it even impacts the dogs."

The family's Dobermans, Dutchess and Kane, haven't been as active since her husband left, she said.

"They're his kids, too. They miss him," she said. "He gets on the floor and rolls around with his dogs every night."

It took until recently for Margaret to speak on the phone with her father, who is able to call home about every four days and talk for about 20 minutes, Kline said. She said Margaret was upset that her father was away for weeks.

"She just would cry, 'I miss my daddy. I want my daddy,'" Kline said. "What 31/2-year-old doesn't want her daddy around?"

But Kline said she knows her husband is on an important military mission and that spending time without him is necessary for the freedom of the nation.

"What he has to do is his job ..." Kline said. "Our government is doing what they can. They're making everything safer for everyone."

She said her job is to make sure her husband stays upbeat and happy while away, and that she sends him letters and presents and keeps him informed about the happenings back home.

In a recent Letter to the Editor, Jaime Kline wrote that such support gets him through the day.

"It is hard to stress how important Deanna's and Margaret's love and support are to get me through every day," he wrote. "It is this very thing that gets me through the long, cold, lonely nights."

Deanna Kline said she and Margaret intend to carry on as usual by visiting family for the holidays, but they'll keep the Christmas tree up and celebrate when Jaime gets home in February. They might add hearts to the tree, since he'll also be away for Valentine's Day, she said.

Until then, she said she will hold her head up and continue the long-distance conversations with her husband, even if it means waiting up until 1 a.m., when Jaime Kline is able to find time to call.

She said knowing her husband is getting by overseas comforts her.

"He's over there. I'm over here," she said. "He's alive. I'm alive, and we're able to talk."

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