North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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January 23, 2014

'Unknown factor" is the hardest thing for Marine Brandon James

SECOND IN A SERIES — Family is the center of many of Brandon James’ decisions, even his reason for enlisting in the military.

“Everybody has a calling,” he said. “But really the reason was to provide a stable life for my wife.”

While in Afghanistan, James and his fellow Marines experienced relentless conditions, including up to 76 hours without sleep and temperatures in the 120s.

“It feels like you’re in a dry oven with somebody blowing a hot hair dryer in your face,” he said.  “You can’t just turn the air conditioner on.”

Besides that, the Marines were carrying 65 pounds of gear, including their rifle. “The physical stuff is pretty demanding,” he said.

However, that wasn’t even the hardest thing.

James said the most difficult part for him was “the unknown factor, not knowing what would happen the next day. Anything could happen.

However, he realizes the same thing was also the hardest aspect for his family.

“The deployment is hard, not just on me, but on them,” he said. “They were on the back side, waiting on a phone call or a knock at the door. They had the unknown factor too, and that’s stressful, especially when you have a kid.”

But he and the others had to learn how to think of their mission and their safety first when they were deployed.

“When I’m over there, I’m worried about her, about my family. Even if she has a flat tire, I can’t change it,” he said. “But you have to put that on the backburner and worry about your brother on your right and your left.”

For now, however, Bran­don can concentrate on his family again as he settles back into a routine.

Coming back home was “not as hard as I thought it would be,” Brandon said. “I thought I would be jumpy.”

But he could see how happy his wife Lindsey was to see him, and that made a big difference. “I couldn’t see coming back and not having my family support,” he said. “That welcoming puts a little coating on it.”

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