Someone whose husband was starting [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] school a long time ago in Maryland at the time as Mark Simeroth was graduating sent me your article.

I have been with Simeroth -- a.k.a. "my Army of one" -- for six and a half years, and all three deployments.

He was on a nice VIP [security detail] for the United Nations General Assembly, a yearly event on 9/11. Just waiting to hear from him that day was the start of all the madness to follow for him and his in the EOD field of career choice.

He had a wonderful career up to then, and decided to commit to his job for the full "20" just weeks before the World Trade disaster. He was doing protection work for UN and missions headquarters was in World Trade 7. After that, his job was completely different in every way he already knew, and would never be the same for the rest of his years in service.

I also have been with him through an election year, with him being home and gone again 280 days out of that year on VIP [security details].

I was sad to see him leave his former post here at 754th out of Ft. Monmouth, N.J., but I was glad he got this two-year assignment at Ft. Irwin teaching younger troops who were going to give EOD a career commitment all of his years of experience and knowledge and help them stay alive.

[The first picture on this page], is the night he left for his first deployment to Afghanistan. November 8th, 2002, he and the 754th were going on six-month deployment. They were gone eight months instead. During that time his unit was out searching caves for weapons and anything to be safely destroyed and taken away from the enemy. I didn't hear from him for almost three months. It was very difficult.

Next, six months home and then back for another six months, back to Afghanistan, almost to the day.

This last one to Iraq was a different country and no easier to say, "miss you till I see you " once again.

[The second picture on this page] is our homecoming photo from December 2006, home safe once again for the third time.

Any time the phone rings, I worry, but nothing, not even deployment three times in five years, prepares you for the separation anxiety.

EOD are a group of "odd ducks" and they are all family. It takes an "odd duck" to fall in love with a man who loves his job, especially when that man's job is career active duty Army EOD.

I am still keeping the home fires burning here, and will be here when the Army allows him "home here" to visit with me.

Other than that, Simeroth and I have decided to make it work, and he is going to be busy and I'll be here when he comes for me.

Missing him until I see him ...

Sincerely,
With prayers and support for all our troops always,
Jaye La Placa
a.k.a Top's best girl always

P.S. I am VFW and family support for the 754th for the last five years also, so not just my soldier, but during that time I had anywhere from 18 to 28 troops adopted through National Adopt a Unit Program of VFWs. Commander to clerk, they are and always will be "my kids." Now they are spread out all over the country and world as Mark's former unit here in New Jersey, the 754th, is being moved to Ft. Drum, N.Y. by March of this year.