Return means adjustments for soldier, family
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles about Leavenworth County residents who have answered the call to serve in Iraq -- and how the duty affected their lives.
Black Hawk pilot Tim Brundage spent a year in Iraq transporting various American and Iraqi citizens by air.
Now, the soldier is back home serving as pilot for another important unit -- his family.
A 1994 Tonganoxie High School graduate, Brundage returned Sept. 15 from Iraq. He was welcomed home by his wife, Amy, and children Sarah, who is 6, and Nate, who is 4.
In Iraq, Brundage took several people from point A to point B -- American dignitaries and Iraqi politicians to American soldiers -- or as Brundage put it, "whoever they told us to give a ride to."
Brundage, who has been in the Army for 14 years, said he thought he made a difference during his time in Iraq.
"Yeah, I think we did," Brundage said. "We saved people's lives I think; made them less exposed."
Brundage mostly worked in the Baghdad area, but served throughout Iraq, normally in more populated areas.
Brundage is ecstatic to be back home with his wife and children. He also noted that it was an adjustment being back from the Middle East.
"You go from a very high stress environment, really making life-and-death decisions, and you come back to a normal everyday life," he said. "It just changes your whole mindset."
Now back in Kansas, Brundage works full-time as an active guard reserve officer in Topeka with the Army National Guard.
While in Iraq, Brundage was able to communicate with his wife and children on a regular basis, thanks to webcams being set up in his room in Iraq and at the family's home in the Tonganoxie area.
"We were so fortunate in that Tim was actually able to have a computer in his room," Amy said. "Webcam there and webcam here ... the kids could at least see him. We were able to communicate that way.
"It was a blessing to talk to and see him."
Coming home was an adjustment for Tim, but it definitely was a change on the home front, as well.
Amy said she wore a lot of different hats and took roles she normally wouldn't with Tim overseas. And, with him away from home, she didn't have someone to discuss various decisions with.
"I'm trying to relinquish them," Amy said, referring to certain tasks. "And he's trying to ease into them."
Although Amy, Sarah and Nate had regular communication with Tim, it still wasn't easy being apart for a year.
"I feel fortunate that I have family so close and so helpful," said Amy, who graduated from THS in 1995. "It was hard not having my best friend and husband here. But they were very supportive and helpful."
Like Amy, Tim is glad that he's back in Kansas.
"It's good; it's definitely an adjustment," Tim said. "But my wife was really incredible, especially with the kids. It made things as easy as possible."
The family currently is living with Amy's parents, Finney and Marilyn Robbins, south of Tonganoxie. Amy said that her parents are in the process of building a new home and that Amy and Tim will purchase their existing home when it the new home is complete.
While spending a year in Iraq, Tim said he was exposed to a different world, one that gave him a different perspective when he returned to the United States.
"It made me appreciate things more what I have here," he said. "And kind of open your eyes to what the rest of the world is like."
In the United States, the debate continues about how long military forces should remain in Iraq, as pulling out forces has been the hottest topic.
Tim, though, has his own opinion on the matter.
"I think people don't realize what would happen if we would just walk away and see what would happen," he said. "Whereas, being over there you would exactly know what was going to happen."