By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Cylia Amacker is 20 years old. She'll celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary Monday with her husband, Pfc. Ethan Amacker.
In the 15 months they've been apart – she in California and he in Iraq – Cylia has changed. She's matured, she's become more patient and she's learned "when it comes down to it, a year is not that long."
"Do everything in your power to stick it out," she said in advice to other young spouses about to embark on their first separations from their soldiers.
Ethan returned to Fort Hood 15 minutes after midnight Friday with hundreds from the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. Ethan, or "Andy," is a combat engineer in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.
Though the hour was late, families and loved ones filled the division's parade field.
"I would've stayed up," Cylia said. "I don't care."
The Amackers met through a mutual friend in California and were dating before Ethan enlisted.
They didn't discuss a future in the Army, Cylia said, and she never thought she'd be an Army wife living in Texas. She moved from California a month ago to get settled and prepare their home for Ethan's arrival.
Cylia baked lasagna, Ethan's favorite dish, which was waiting for him at home, she said while standing at the parade field.
She is looking forward to them spending time together. True time together, she said, not time talking on the phone.
The year was crazy, it was chaotic, but in the end, it was worth it, she said.
"It all comes down to being strong."
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.
Help welcome troops home next week
The 1st Cavalry Division wants the public's help to welcome its 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers back to Fort Hood from Iraq. Soldiers from the brigade are set to arrive at 4:15 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Cooper Field at Fort Hood.
Officials urge members of the local communities to gather at the parade field an hour before the scheduled homecoming ceremony.
Ceremony times are subject to change. For the most current information, check the 1st Cavalry's schedule at www.hood.army.mil/1stcavdiv/redeployment or call (254) 618-7598 or (254) 286-5331.