Daily life for Tara Meredith, 24, has always been a challenge while her husband, John Meredith, 28, is away serving his country.
She waited anxiously in the stands with other wives, children and parents eager to see their soldier returning home. This time, her husband’s deployment to Afghanistan with Thomasville’s 1230th National Guard Transportation Company lasted 10 months.
As she heard the motorcycles coming up the street leading her soldier back to her at Veterans Memorial Stadium on May 31, Tara’s heart felt as if it was going to beat out of her chest. A difficult situation was coming to and end.
“For the first few weeks, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he would be walking through the front door any minute,” she said. “It didn’t seem real that I would be without him temporarily.
“Once I finally settled into this new way of living, there were days where I felt like I had things under control and I could just breeze through the deployment. But then there were the days where ‘Murphy’s Law’ was in full effect and I found myself wondering if I could make it through this with my sanity.”
Even though Tara had difficult days with John away, she was confident he would be returning home to her— and it kept her strong.
She said, “I found ways to push through it by keeping busy with work or projects at home.”
Tara began going to the YMCA not long after he left. She attended classes after work to preoccupy her mind. After workouts, she would go home where she would meddle with various home projects and attend to their five dogs — Huck, Harley, Henlee, Lylah and Roxie.
“I got through the deployment like most other wives did— just one day at a time,” she said.
The couple was able to communicate regularly, which helped. For the first few weeks, they were able to send text messages to one another. Then international text messaging fees kicked in.
Tara said, “International texting restrictions hiked our phone bill over $350! We then decided to try Facebook Messenger, which we continued to use 99 percent of the time. Skype was another option we tried, but the Internet quality was so poor that all you really could see was extremely grainy views of the other person, not to mention the almost five second delay when speaking.”
Even on the days when John was too busy to respond to her messages, Tara could rest easy by knowing he had seen her message.
“We could send messages, see when the other person had read the message, see when each other was online and typing back,” Tara said. “Even on days when he was too busy to reply, at least I knew he had read my messages — which meant he was safe another day.”
The Family Readiness Group (FRG) and Family Services proved to be helpful to her.
She remembered, “I had to call the Red Cross for a family emergency a few months into this past deployment, and although I knew what to do, they were quick to react, making sure I didn’t need any other assistance or help with the matter.”
The FRG is a program that supports and educates families while their family member is deployed on a mission.
John Meredith has been in the National Guard since 2003. He began serving his country while he was still in high school. He completed his training at Fort Sill, Okla.
John was sent to Louisiana to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and completed two deployments overseas — one to Iraq in 2007-2008 and Afghanistan in 2013-2014.
Currently, he is based in Thomasville as an AGR Supply NCO for the 1230th Transportation Company. John and Tara are natives of Bainbridge but relocated to Thomasville in May 2011 when the unit home was changed to Thomasville.
Seeing her husband again after so many months opened a “flood of emotions” for Tara.
As she saw the soldiers step off the bus and fall into formation for a community celebration, tears welled in her eyes.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Tara. “I couldn’t tell you what happened during the ceremony that day. All I could focus on was staring at my husband on that field— so anxious to hug him.”
Finally, the soldiers were dismissed and the family members began stormed the football field to be united with their soldiers.
Tara said, “I ran out of the stands to the field and immediately found him, running so hard and fast towards him — I literally knocked the wind out of myself as I hugged him. I held on for what seemed like forever.
“I never wanted to let him go again.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.