‘I’ll be back soon’|Army soldier heading to Iraq for second time

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 2009

McKenzee Collins turned 3 Thursday — just before her dad heads to Iraq on his second tour with the U.S. Army.

Sgt. James Collins, missed her birth and her first birthday while he was in Kuwait from 2006 to 2007. “They didn’t send me home to see her,” he said.

He also missed the second and third birthdays of his older daughter, Katelyn, 4, who was born Sept. 7.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We celebrated when I got home, and I bought them presents,” he said.

Both girls played in Catfish Row Splash Fountain on Levee Street Sunday to celebrate their birthdays with Collins, which was a first for the family.

Collins, 27, ammunition specialist with the Army 3rd Brigade at Fort Lewis, Wash., spent more than a year working with Iraqi people. This week, he and his family are in Vicksburg visiting his mother, Phyllis Collins.

“We delivered food and water to some of those villages,” he said. “We tried to take care of them as much as we could.”

He expects to do the same on this tour.

Collins, of University Place, Wash., said he enjoys challenges, experiences and new environments, but leaving his family is always hard. “Once you’re there for a couple of months, you start getting used to it,” he said.

His wife, Miranda, 25, said she is not as comfortable with his deploying. Through tears she whispered, “The hardest part is the kids asking about him.”

She said they often ask, “Where is dad? When is he coming home?”

Phyllis Collins said she is always positive and prays for everyone deployed, “no matter who’s over there.”

The Collinses said they cope with being apart by sending e-mail messages and chatting on the Internet.

“That makes it a lot easier,” he said.

Collins said before he leaves again, he will tell Katelyn and McKenzee, “I gotta go to work. I’ll be back soon.”


Contact Tish Butts at tbutts@vicksburgpost.com