Sergeant mom returns home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sergeant mom returns home

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July 11, 2003

Albany- When Sgt. Natalie Peterson left for Kuwait in the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, her daughter Mya was barely walking.

"She was holding on to the couch," Peterson said.

More than four months later, things have changed.

"She's gotten more teeth, she's talking and stuff and she's walking all by herself."

15-month-old Mya was born in Germany, so this was his first time away from Natalie. But 7-year old Alyx has been away from mom before.

"With the baby, it was a lot harder because she was so young," she said. "Having to be away from both of my kids, I was devastated."

But there was a job to be done. And with family at home caring for Alyx and Mya Natalie was left with a peaceful mind.

"We went to the park everyday," Alyx said.

"I was able to keep my mind on my job and do what I have to do, and I didn't have to worry about my kids," Peterson said.

Looking back, traveling into Iraq on the patriot missile launcher that she operates and maintains was scary.

"Cause you didn't know what to expect."

She was prepared for hostility from Iraqi people.

"But when we got there, everybody's like waving at us and giving us the thumbs up ya know."

Her job there is done. Early Thursday, Peterson arrived home. Mya was reserved.

"And she just kind of looked at me, and just like looked at me, and I picked her up and gave her a kiss. But she was still like looking at me like I know who you are but, I'm not real sure."

Peterson was prepared.

"I had already set in my mind that she might not recognize me."

To live the military life, sacrifices must be made.

"I signed up to do a job and that's what I was gonna do. If that meant leaving my kids and making a better life for them, yes, then it was worth it."

A life, Peterson hopes, that will provide Alyx and Mya with a world full of opportunity.