May 7, 2012
Story by Spc. Jessica Zullig
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Sgt. Sande Hooks is a mother. She’s also a human resources noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard and has been deployed twice.
She realizes the meaning of the day set aside for mothers.
In 2004, Hooks, a Lancing, Tenn., native, was deployed to Forward Operating Base Caldwell, Iraq, with her husband, Staff Sgt. Travis Hooks. They left their three youngest children, Nikki, 14, Shane, 14, and Emyle, who was a newborn at the time, in the care of the children’s grandparents. Now, six years later, the same situation has occurred.
“It’s different,” said Hooks about being away from her children. “I’ve done this before, but it’s different. I’m used to seeing them. The oldest ones, not so much. But it’s difficult not seeing the youngest.”
Hooks talks to her youngest daughter over Yahoo! Messenger, which helps ease the separation pains.
This deployment, Hooks and her husband are separated, presenting a challenge not yet faced.
“This time around is a different situation,” she said. “We’re separated. It made it easier last time to talk to the kids because of being together.”
Occasionally, Hooks will leave base. As the environment in Iraq is less hostile than the last deployment, going on mission is not as big of a concern.
“It was a whole lot different last time because it was more aggressive last time as compared to this time,” she said. “This time when I’ve been out, I’m just a passenger. The prayer is always given, but the mission is more relaxed.”
In Lancing, Tenn., Hooks and her Family live on a farm. She says that she is missing the little things that go with spring as well as the Family get-together held on Mother’s Day.
“It is difficult because that’s when I get to be babied,” she said. “All the kids come in and we fix a big dinner. This time, I don’t get to do that. But we’ll make up for it when we get home.”