Layron, Stacy and Seth Doyal
Being away from family and friends during the Christmas season isn't easy under normal circumstances.
What Layron Doyal is going through these days is anything but normal.
Doyal, the husband of Stacy Doyal of Linton, is stationed at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq. He's a member of Outlaw Troop, 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
While most of us spent Christmas and New Year's Day with family and friends, Doyal was thousands of miles away from his wife and son, Seth, a first grader at Linton-Stockton Elementary School.
Doyal's family was featured in the Dec. 22 issue of the newspaper, and now Doyal himself has agreed to share his thoughts about being away for the holidays.
"It's tough for all of us, even if you are single with no children," Doyal said in an interview by e-mail. "We have Christmas trees set up at the flightline, we did a Secret Santa gift-giving, (and) our Family Support Group sent a large banner with pictures and Christmas wishes. So all those things help out."
He added that all the soldiers pull together during the holidays and support each other.
"I think the most important thing for all of us to remember is that we are not alone over here, we have each other," Doyal noted.
Doyal said he's lucky that, unlike many past wars, soldiers can now communicate much easier with family and friends.
"We communicate with each other quite often, I would say almost daily," Doyal explained. "We are fortunate enough to have a phone center here on Camp Taji and our Troop has set up Internet service in each of the rooms for soldiers to use. So, we are very fortunate."
Doyal said there's plenty to do when he's not working
"We stay busy at work mostly. Attack aviation is always flying so that requires lots of work, not just by the pilots," Doyal explained. "Off days are spent doing things like haircuts, stops by the Exchange for personal items, watching movies, etc.
"Some of my peers and I make time for a gym workout daily."
Doyal's group is scheduled for re-deployment in early 2009.
"I have been in the Army now for almost 16 years. I am currently a Chief Warrant Officer 2," Doyal said. "I did 12 years of enlisted service prior to becoming a Warrant Officer. I earned the rank of E-7/ Sergeant First Class."
Stacy Doyal is a 1994 graduate of Linton-Stockton High School, and is the daughter of Brad and Liane Franklin of Linton.