By Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 15, 2009 - Typically, deployment marks a separation from family. It can be a difficult sacrifice that walks hand in hand with selfless service to answer the nation's call. Occasionally, however, circumstances bring family members together and strengthen the bond between them.
Army Sgt. Jordane Lovin, a Special Troops Battalion signal intelligence analyst with the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, received a visit here April 4 from her older brother, Army Pfc. Robert Lovin, a 10th Sustainment Brigade quartermaster specialist.
The siblings had not been able to spend time together since Jordane Lovin graduated from high school in 2003 and joined the Army, leaving their home in Erie, Pa.
"I honestly thought Iraq would be the last place I would see her," said Robert Lovin, who has been stationed at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad since May. When he found out his sister was coming to Iraq, he tried to coordinate to see her. He took the request to his chain of command, and was approved for a four-day visit to Camp Echo. When he found out, he said, he couldn't contain his excitement.
"I went outside and actually started jumping up and down for joy when I found out," he said. His sister responded to the mental image by making fun of him. After a shared laugh, she admitted that she also was excited when she learned his unit would let him visit.
"I'm very grateful that they did," she said. "Since I'm a late deployer, I don't get to go home on leave, so I was very happy that he came down to Camp Echo. It was pretty awesome." Jordane Lovin deployed in January to join the rest of the 2nd BCT, which deployed in September. She'd been held back from deployment until she had appropriate dwell time after a tour in Korea.
The 23-year-old sergeant said she was very excited for her brother to see how much she has changed, but she admitted being a bit anxious for the same reason.
Jordane Lovin has been in the Army for more than five years, and her brother joined 18 months ago. Robert Lovin said he respects his sister's experience and military knowledge, and often asks her for advice in Army matters. His goal, however, is to match her in rank one day, which she claims will never happen.
"Her joining made me want to join," the 24-year-old soldier said. "I'm glad I took her advice and joined the Army." He said the Army is taking care of his family, and he doesn't have to worry about his wife, Amy, their 4-year-old son, Dustin, and daughter, Haley, 3.
Robert Lovin recently re-enlisted for six years. Jordane Lovin re-enlisted last year for four. Both said the Army has been good to them and that they plan on staying in for awhile.
The siblings said they would like to be stationed on the same post one day, possibly at Fort Carson, Colo. But if that happened, they joked, they would drive each other crazy.
"I think we're pretty close," Jordane Lovin said of the family relationship. The two soldiers have seven siblings, including four step-siblings.
"As far as not seeing each other for a while, we still talk to each other and e-mail," she added, noting that using a webcam helps to close the distance as well.
Both soldiers said their family is proud to carry on the tradition of serving their country, even through the hardships of separation. While they miss the rest of the family, they said they took solace in each other's company, reveling in their micro-family reunion.
(Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente serves with the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)