North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

January 20, 2014

Marine brings lessons home from Afghanistan deployment

Brandon and Lindsey James learn that family support is crucial to happy homecoming

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

FIRST IN A SERIES — A former north Jefferson County family has learned volumes from an experience that has become all too familiar in this country.

Brandon and Lindsey James, who are both 21, are still celebrating Brandon’s recent return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps. Brandon is from Dora and

Lindsey is from Warrior, but they now live at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Brandon is stationed.

The couple has been together since they were 15. They got married in June 2011, three months after Brandon enlisted as a Marine tank crewman.

Two years later, he was deployed to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

“It was scary,” Lindsey said. “I didn’t hear from him for three or four weeks at a time. You never knew when you would hear from him. There were a lot of emotions and a lot of praying.”

One of her biggest fears is that their daughter Paisley, who was 16 months old, would not remember Brandon when he returned.

That fear was not realized, though, in part because of something she asked Brandon to do before he left.

“She had me make some videos of me reading books to (Paisley),” Brandon said. “And she had a picture with me and her by her bed; she saw it every morning when she woke up.”

Paisley also slept every night with a “daddy doll” that looked just like Brandon.

“When I got back, my baby girl was walking and talking,” he said. “It’s great to know that she missed me. It gives me a feeling like she needs me.”

Brandon said it was family support that got him through the deployment, even though he was worried about his wife and daughter while he was gone.

“When it was over, seeing your family again is like you’re meeting them for the first time. It’s magical,” Brandon said. “It’s the happiest thing you can think of.”