Tampa Bay mother & nurse back home from military tour

  1. Just wanted to share a good thing:

    The nurse, 36, one of six MacDill reservists to come home Wednesday, recalls her role in Operation Enduring Freedom.
    By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
    published March 29, 2002


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    TAMPA -- During the long nights she was an on-call military nurse for Operation Enduring Freedom, Capt. Sharon Falls and other reservists made lists of where they would eat when they got home.


    [Times photo: Thomas M. Goethe]
    Capt. Sharon Falls' son, Tim, hugs her Wednesday night at Tampa International Airport.
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    "The guys were like, Hooters, but I was like, Outback, Varsity Club and Dunkin' Donuts," said Falls of Crystal Beach. "I am a doughnut fiend in the morning."

    After a five-month tour of duty in southern Asia, Falls came home late Wednesday night. At Tampa International Airport, she squeezed her 14-year-old son and kissed her tearful mother.

    At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Falls, 36, got her food wish. She went to Dunkin' Donuts on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor. She had been five months without a single doughnut.

    "I had two chocolate frosted," Falls said. "And a large black coffee."

    Falls was one of six MacDill reservists who came home Wednesday. Another group is expected to return today.

    Falls was originally stationed in Qatar, but was later sent to a country whose name must remain secret because it is still classified military information, she said.

    There, she was one of a few flight nurses. As part of the medical evacuation team, she would fly to injured military personnel, stabilize them and fly them to nearby barracks or a hospital.

    She also accompanied human remains on flights, but Falls said she cannot talk much about that or many other experiences.

    Falls and the other reservists were able to e-mail family and friends, and because she brought a digital camera, she sent dozens of pictures to her mother, Pat Kauffman, in Palm Harbor.

    Some of the photos showed Falls' everyday life: her green military cot and her tent, which was so close to a runway it shook every time a plane took off. She also sent home photos of her helping with an appendix operation.

    "You're either extremely busy or not busy at all," she said of her work.

    In her civilian life, Falls works as a cardiology nurse in Palm Harbor. But she may not be able to go back to work just yet; she is officially under orders until October.

    On Thursday, after she got her coffee, she drove around Palm Harbor. It felt a little surreal to be driving around suburban Florida, when just two days ago she had been living in a tent on the other side of the planet.

    "The biggest thing I noticed was that everyone still has their flags up," said Falls. "I started to cry looking at them."
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jun 30, '02
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  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   oramar
    nice story, I am sure we will hear many more like this in the future

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