February 17

Monmouth family carries on with love sent from Afghanistan

Lewis family settles into life while keeping in touch with Maj. Scott Lewis, who is stationed at Bagram Airfield.

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

MONMOUTH — The vase of red roses Scott Lewis sent to his wife, Lynn, for Valentine’s Day rest on the counter. Nathan, Scott’s 6-year-old son, plays with the Lego jet his dad sent him for the same occasion.

click image to enlarge

THE PLEDGE: Lynn Lewis, right, poses for a portrait with her children Kimberlee, 17, left, and Nate, 6, in front of a sign that reads, “I pledge allegiance to the flag, and my heart to the soldier who defends it” on Friday February 14, 2014, in Monmouth.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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REMEMBERING: Nate Lewis, 6, laughs with his mother Lynn Lewis on Friday February 14, 2014, at their home in Monmouth. Maj. Scott Lewis, who is serving in Afghanistan, sent his son the Lego set and his wife the vase of roses for Valentine’s Day.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

Meanwhile, Scott’s been pestering his daughter, Kimberlee, for clues that will lead him to the perfect gift for her 17th birthday next week.

None of this makes Lewis any different than any husband and father who loves his family, but for the past six months he has expressed that love from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Lewis, a major serving with the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion, left home in August. He’s expected to return in July.

“Our routine has changed to the point where, when we Skype him, I can hang up and move on,” Lynn Lewis said. “At the beginning of the deployment, I had a very hard time hanging up. I feel guilty about that. I don’t want that to be our norm.”

The Lewises on the home front continue to talk and email Scott just about every day. They get to see him during weekly sessions of Skype, an Internet based video conferencing system. Kimberlee said her dad keeps in touch via email, sending her notes of encouragement about tests and her role as Fern in Monmouth Academy’s production of “Charlotte’s Web.” Kimberlee was only 7 when her dad spent a year in Mosul, Iraq, with the 133rd.

“I’m a lot more aware this time,” she said. “I would say it’s more difficult just because I’m more emotionally developed. When you’re little it’s all about the toy you’re playing with. Now I know there’s risk there. It doesn’t help the stress of being a teenager.”

There are differences for Lynn this time, too. The technology that allows her to keep in daily contact with her husband — they are even able to exchange text messages — was unavailable during the year Scott spent in Iraq. Lynn makes it a point to make sure there is a note and the picture of the day waiting for Scott when he wakes up each morning.

The most important difference, Lynn said, is the security offered by the airbase. Two members of the 133rd were killed and 12 were wounded in 2004 when a suicide bomber attacked a crowded dining facility. Bagram is a large self-contained airbase — Lynn described it as a city— that insulates the soldiers on the base from the country around them.

“That’s a good feeling,” Lynn said.

The difference in this mission for Scott is rooted in his increased responsibility. In Iraq he oversaw a company of a hundred or so soldiers. He now is responsible for 10 times that many. That responsibility comes with 10 times the workload, Lynn said. Her husband has had to develop tunnel vision.

“Mission accomplished is at the end of the tunnel,” Lynn said. “The bright spot is he’s going to come home at the end of this mission to me and kids.”

For Scott’s family, hitting their stride has meant taking care of problems as they come up. At Christmas time, that meant throwing a mattress on the floor in front of the wood stove to keep the fire going during three days the family spent without electricity as a result of the ice storm. Another time it meant putting Kimberlee’s developing driving skills to use to haul out the tractor that got stuck while Lynn was blowing snow from the driveway.

“I haven’t run into anything I haven’t been able to get myself out of,” Lynn said.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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BUILDING: Kimberlee Lewis, left, helps her brother, Nate Lewis, build a Lego set that their father, Maj. Scott Lewis, sent him as a Valentine’s Day gift on Friday February 14, 2014, in Monmouth.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

FAMILY SERVICE: A blue star decal is in the window at the Lewis family home on Friday February 14, 2014 in Monmouth for Maj. Scott Lewis who is serving at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan with the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan


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