War on Terrorism

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Face of Defense: Sisters Serve Together in Afghanistan

By Army Sgt. Sinthia Rosario
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 13, 2013 – When soldiers deploy, they leave behind their families and friends. It’s one of the hardest sacrifices that soldiers make and accept.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Cpl. Victoria P. Stokes and Army Spc. Alisa M. Matthews chat during their deployment at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, June 12, 2013. The soldiers are sisters from Lumberton, N.C., who are deployed together from Fort Campbell, Ky. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sinthia Rosario

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But for two sisters who are deployed here together, it is a comfort for them to have each other at their side.

Army Cpl. Victoria P. Stokes, a human resources specialist with Task Force Lifeliner, and Army Spc. Alisa M. Matthews, a geospatial engineer with Combined Joint Intelligence, have been close since they were growing up in Lumberton, N.C.

Stokes, the elder sister, joined the Army first, but that wasn’t their first separation. The first time the sisters were separated was when Matthews went off to college. Stokes described the void that was left when her sister went off to school.

“Reality hit me,” she said. “I broke down and cried."

While Matthews was gone for four years working on her educational goals, her sister joined the Army to follow in their father’s footsteps. A few years later and after finishing school, Matthews also enlisted.
Stokes said she was elated when she got the word from her little sister that she’d be joining her at Fort Campbell, Ky.

“I was at school when I found out I was going to Fort Campbell,” Matthews said. “I was so excited, because we hadn’t been together in years. [I thought], ‘It’s going to be like old times.’”

Though they were serving in different units on Fort Campbell, it came as no surprise to the sisters when they learned they would be deploying to Afghanistan and would serve at the same base.

The sisters said they gain strength from each other as they face similar challenges. They work different shifts, but they still make it a point to check up on one another as often as possible.

“At times, it’s kind of hard,” Stokes said. “We don’t see one another as much as we would like to, but we always find a way to see each other. I go to her room or to the [Joint Operations Center], where she works, to spend time with her.”

Stokes has been in the Army for six years and has a previous deployment. Matthews has been in the Army for only a couple of years, and this is her first deployment. Stokes has been mentoring and guiding her sister, and is helping her to prepare for an upcoming promotion board.

Through their childhoods, the sisters said, they were able to lean on and confide in each other. As they move through adulthood, they added, they’re finding their connection in their personal and professional lives has allowed them to continue to grow together and strengthen their bond.

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