For the first time in eight years, one soldier will not get to spend Christmas with his family.
U.S. Air Force SSGT Luke DeLoach, his wife Joycie and two sons, Joey and George, will not be able to spend Christmas with his parents this year. DeLoach’s parents, Scott and JoAnn DeLoach said their son’s leave was canceled due to a shortage in personnel. He is stationed at Misawa Air Force Base in Misawa, Japan, where he is a non-destruction inspector.
“They told him it would be 2018 before he would have another opportunity to come back to the United States,” his father, Scott DeLoach said. “We were all excited because he was going to get to come back to the states for the next four years, and they told him he had to stay at least another year (in Japan).”
He was scheduled to return to the U.S. in April, which would have meant a trip home for Christmas, he said, but at the last minute, those plans were changed.
JoAnn DeLoach said her son’s job is very technical, and it is difficult to find soldiers who can pass the test for the job.
The DeLoach’s said it’s difficult not having him home, because they miss out on so many things other grandparents do not, such as ballgames or keeping them overnight.
“We only have three ways we can communicate with them,” Scott DeLoach said. “We can message, text or Facetime.”
Add to that the nearly 15 hour time difference and keeping in touch can be challenging.
“For us, it might be 2 a.m., but we get up and Facetime for an hour or so,” he said. “It’s the middle of the night for us, but it’s daytime for them. Luke and his mom were always real close, and they still are. So, when he needs advice, he wants his mom, and it’s usually 2 in the morning.”
Luke DeLoach and his brother, Seth, are very close, their parents said, and when he first joined the Air Force, it was difficult for him as well. The DeLoach’s said they either travel to Misawa or their son comes to the U.S. for Christmas. The DeLoach’s said being the parents of a soldier is not easy, and being grandparents of two children who live across the world even less so.
“We hear about other grandparents talking about their grandchildren, and it’s like, ‘We didn’t get to do that,’” she said. “It’s hard for me not seeing those babies, because it feels like the parts that I’m missing can’t be given back to me. So, it’s not only a sacrifice on our part, but it is for them too. You could cry if you wanted to, but it doesn’t change anything.”
Luke DeLoach has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Guam. He was first stationed in North Carolina before the move to Japan.
They said they will miss their son this Christmas, but they will make it work. This year, they will Face Time, watching their grandsons, Joey, 4 and George, 2, open their gifts. Then they will spend the day with Seth DeLoach and his wife, Vickie.