LEXINGTON, SC, UNITED STATES
Story by Spc. Chelsea Baker
South Carolina National Guard
Spc. Jarret Purvis, an all-wheeled mechanic for the 742nd Support Maintenance Company, South Carolina Army National Guard, had been deployed for nearly 11 months to support U.S. Army Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve. On December 16, 2017, he and his unit returned home.
“It was my daughter’s fourth birthday, and I wanted to surprise her,” said Purvis, who began preparations in November to surprise his wife Ashley and their two daughters, ages two and four.
Purvis said that the planning was pretty easy because he didn’t give his wife any firm dates when he would be home and led her to believe demobilization and out processing would take longer. When his unit arrived at the airport in Columbia, South Carolina, he, with some help from other members of his family, was able to execute his plan. It was during his daughter’s party in a gymnasium in Lexington, South Carolina, that he made his entrance.
“I was completely shocked,” said Purvis. “I had no idea he was coming home and it was an overwhelmingly emotional surprise with lots of tears.”
During his ten years in the Army National Guard, he’s deployed two times. During those times of separation, he said he missed a lot of major milestones in his daughters’ lives and many holidays. Through these tough times he knew the sacrifices he made had purpose and the benefits that come with being a part of the military were worth it for him and his family.
“My first daughter was born during my first deployment to Afghanistan in 2013,” said Purvis. “It was challenging to watch my daughters grown up through video chat and photos.”
Prior to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the role of the National Guard was a reserve force with traditional drills one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. Since then and with today’s threats, the National Guard has increased readiness as an operational force prepared to answer the call at a moment’s notice.
“The reason why I continue to serve my country is because I love my job,” said Purvis. “I love working on different types of vehicles that I normally don’t see but the big determining factor is the long term benefits for my wife and kids.”
Having a strong support system is key for many service members to continue their mission. Knowing that the people they leave behind will be there for them and help them drive on gives them purpose. A support system is not just family and friends, it also includes civilian employers.
For the last three years, Purvis has worked for International Paper as a corrugator control room operator. He said his employer has always supported him and his military career.
“My management at International Paper is very supportive and understanding with my military career,” said Purvis. “Without their support and understanding, I wouldn’t be able to pursue or continue my duties in the military and it would make life so much harder.”
Now that Purvis is home and the surprise homecoming was a success, they plan to spend the holidays together as a family and eventually plan a vacation after the New Year.
“I support Jarret’s military career because he is my husband and I love him,” said Purvis. “We are very excited to have him home just in time for the holidays.”