Well-deserved vacation

Brodie Thomas
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Soldier timing Afghanistan leave for come home year

If all goes well, Master Corporal Joanne Brumwell should be in Port aux Basques for the town's come home year celebrations this summer.

The vacation will be a break from her upcoming six- to eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan set to start early in 2010. Every Canadian Forces soldier gets 21 days off in the middle of their tour.

If all goes well, Master Corporal Joanne Brumwell should be in Port aux Basques for the town's come home year celebrations this summer.

The vacation will be a break from her upcoming six- to eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan set to start early in 2010. Every Canadian Forces soldier gets 21 days off in the middle of their tour.

While she could technically meet up with her family just about anywhere in the world, she wants to use her leave to get back to Newfoundland for a visit.

"When you're coming out of that kind of environment, you just want to be home," she said.

Although the 53-year-old now lives in London, Ont. with her husband and two children, Newfoundland is still "home." She grew up on High Street in Port aux Basques, the daughter of the late Matthew Young and Ethel-Jane Young. Mrs. Young now resides in Stephenville.

Master Cpl. Brumwell joined the military in 1977, following in her father's footsteps. Mr. Young was a Second World War veteran.

This will be her second tour of duty in Afghanistan. She first went over in 2005 for six months.

She will again be serving as a resource management clerk, working in an office on the base. She said soldiers still need to get paid and expenses still need to be monitored, even though they are half a world away.

"Obviously it's a bit slower but we work with the same computer programs as here in Canada," she said.

Master Cpl. Brumwell is now a reservist, so her decision to go back to Afghanistan for a second tour was entirely her own. She said she wanted to go back to support what she calls the "true soldiers" who work off the base with the Afghan people.

During her last tour, she was mainly in a makeshift office that was set up in a dome tent. She said it was very warm everyday and the shifts were long, from early morning to midnight some days.

Soldiers get some personal time on Sunday for church and rest, but the work never really stops.

Master Cpl. Brumwell said her husband has also served in Afghanistan, and her decision to do a tour of duty in 2005 was hard on her children. Now aged 20 and 14, they have been more supportive this time around.

"They're all for it, although it's hard for them. I do everything with my children," she said.

Although she has been to one of the most dangerous countries on the planet, Master Cpl. Brumwell was more excited to talk about her home in Newfoundland and her possible upcoming visit. She lamented that she rarely has enough time to visit everyone she would like to see when she does make it home.

She participated in the Run to the Sea Lighthouse Relay in 2007, running her section of the race in Port aux Basques.

She said she is still recognized around town, although many of the people she knew in school have moved away. She is hoping to reconnect with them this come home year.

Master Cpl. Brumwell isn't sure when her tour will begin. She will first travel to California for training and acclimatization there.

Her attendance for come home year celebrations will depend on if she is granted the leave she requests. Nevertheless, she is hopeful the stars will line up in her favor.

reporter@gulfnews.ca

Organizations: Canadian Forces

Geographic location: Afghanistan, California, Port aux Basques Newfoundland London, Ont. High Street Stephenville Canada

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