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Electronic links help troops deployed over the holidays

Spc. Clarence Primm keeps in touch with his family on Facebook and Skype, while using his iPad in a lounge of the Installation Housing Office at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — It’s nearly impossible to walk across the installation housing office building at Camp Arifjan without seeing a servicemember using a phone, computer or tablet device to keep touch with people back home.

This time of year, “love you” and “miss you” are commonplace as background noise. But soldiers here do as soldiers have done for centuries, when away from home: drive on.

Pvt. Tyson Gremillion and his wife, Mandy, were going to celebrate their son’s first Christmas this year. Gremillion said his wife “flipped her wig” when she found out about his deployment to Kuwait. “But we’re doing OK,” he said, after finishing a Skype call. “She is getting used to it.”

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Gremillion joined the Army in July and is fresh out of Army Individual Training, where he learned to be a cable maintainer and installer. Kuwait is his first duty station and he arrived this week.

“Jobs were hard to come by,” explained Gremillion as the reason for joining the Army. He needed to support his family, and while the Army has its emotional sacrifices, he says financially he’s doing “a lot better” than he was.

“It could be a lot worse, like back in the old days when all we had was writing [letters],” said Gremillion who is optimistic that, because of technology, he will be able to talk to his wife often.

Camp Arifjan fills a number of functions, mostly administrative and logistical, for the roughly 13,000 U.S. soldiers in Kuwait.

Not everyone is preparing for Christmas away from family. Spc. Clarence Primm is getting ready for a trip home and hopes to make it in time to spend Christmas with his wife and two kids. “They are excited. They are counting down the days on Facebook,” said Primm.

Primm has missed four Christmases with his family, including last year. “It takes a lot, but they understand it’s my job, it’s what I do.”

Primm has been in Kuwait since June and qualifies to take a rest and recuperation trip to spend Christmas with his wife’s family in Augusta, Ga. He will be back after New Year’s to finish his yearlong tour in Kuwait.

But on his mind right now is on Christmas breakfast with his family, and whether he should let his kids open one present on Christmas Eve.

“I’m ready to go home,” he said. “Being with my family is the only thing I really care about.”

simoesh@estripes.osd.mil

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