Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Two weeks off gave Spc. Eric Pierce, 21, of Emben, Maine, a chance to grow a goatee, drive his new BMW, and most of all, spend every waking moment with his wife, Edna.

Pierce, a communication specialist with V Corps in Baghdad, was working the late shift Sept. 23, when his bosses told him to take the next two weeks off.

He had six hours to collect his things, get to Baghdad International Airport and catch a flight to Kuwait. After a night at Camp Wolf, the Army base adjacent to Kuwait Airport, Pierce flew to Frankfurt.

Meanwhile in Heidelberg, Edna Pierce, an Army specialist who works for V Corps’ rear detachment, anxiously awaited her husband’s return. The couple had been married June 10, 2002, and missed their first anniversary...

“It was wonderful — he was there,” she said, of her husband’s return during an interview in Heidelberg only days before Pierce was to return downrange. “I just talked his ear off.”

On the first day the couple faced the uneasy feelings of getting reacquainted, they said, but that wore off quickly. They remembered what it was like to share the computer, the television and their bed.

There were joyous calls home to his family in Maine and her folks in El Paso, Texas. Then the couple headed out to the Coyote Café in Heidelberg for the long-awaited steak that he and fellow troops in Iraq dream about when washing down their packaged rations with bleach-filtered water.

“Oh, it was excellent — cooked perfectly,” Pierce said with a smile. “And I had a beer for a couple of friends.”

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