Craig native returns to Middle East after 18-day leave | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig native returns to Middle East after 18-day leave

Home and Iraq again

Joshua Roberts

Katie and Talon Jayne, a Craig couple, watched the Denver Broncos game Nov. 2 against the Miami Dolphins in Denver. Talon, a U.S. Army staff sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division, was home on leave from his second tour in Iraq. He has since returned to the Middle East, where he will serve until shipping stateside in February.

The world was a different place June 5, 2001, the day Talon Jayne enlisted in the U.S. Army.

The twin towers still stood. Innocent blood hadn’t been spilled in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. The words “bin Laden” and “al-Qaida” weren’t yet household names.

And then everything changed.

The towers came down. Thousands died. A new enemy announced itself to the United States.

Jayne, a then 17-year-old just weeks from graduating high school, didn’t know the events of September 11, 2001, would lead to his entrance into a hostile war zone two years later.

Still, he’s never regretted his decision to serve. Not then and not now, two tours in Iraq later.

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“Scared? Maybe a little bit. Who wouldn’t have been?” said Jayne, 25, a 2001 Moffat County High School graduate and Army staff sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division. “But at that point, I was already in. I’ve never second-guessed being in the military.”

Jayne recently was home in Craig for an 18-day leave. Part of his trip included attending the Denver Broncos game Nov. 2 against the Miami Dolphins.

Tickets for the game came courtesy of Craig resident Roy McAnally, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Thailand from 1968 to 1970, during the Vietnam War.

McAnally called the gift a sign of appreciation from “one veteran to another.”

“The homecoming my generation experienced was less than pleasant,” McAnally said. “Veterans certainly deserve to be recognized and appreciated when they come home. : I just wanted to do a little thing to let him know he is appreciated.”

Jayne was part of the first wave in Iraq in 2003. He spent 13 months in the country. Danger was everywhere, he said.

“The whole country was hostile at that point,” he said. “It was a learning experience. : I was a young soldier. It was hard to see the people of Iraq struggling so much.”

His most recent deployment to Iraq came in November 2007. He will serve there until February, and then return stateside to Fort Polk, in Louisiana, where he is stationed.

Jayne said he is “100 percent” behind U.S. efforts in the Middle East.

“We’re enabling Iraqis to take care of themselves,” he said. “We’re slowly taking a step back, and they’re doing more and more of the work.”

As for his time in friendlier confines, Jayne said he enjoyed his visit home, particularly seeing his wife, Katie (Coulter) Jayne, a 2003 MCHS graduate, and 3-year-old daughter, Kahlan.

Katie is raising Kahlan in Craig while her husband serves overseas. Katie and Talon Jayne are working on their degrees through the online school, Central Texas College.

Katie said she’s proud of her husband’s service.

“I think with your spouse in the military, you’re getting an opportunity every day to be proud of what they do,” she said.

Before Jayne’s recent visit, it had been 11 months since the two had seen each other.

“It was fantastic to see him,” Katie said. “Everything just clicks and goes back to the moment before they left.”

Departing was a different story. Jayne left Nov. 13.

This time, Kahlan was old enough to understand her father was leaving for a while. Katie said she tells her daughter that, “Daddy’s at work and will be back soon.”

“But, she still asks where he is,” Katie said.

Jayne said serving in Iraq, even with the personal and family rigors and demands it requires, has been a small price to pay for the benefits he and his family have gotten out of the military.

“There is no doubt in my mind,” he said, when asked whether he made the right decision seven years ago. “The military is one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com