Branson Woman Awaits the Return of Her Husband From Iraq

Awaiting husband’s return from Iraq is tough duty all its own – It’s like only half of you is there

The waiting takes it’s own type of courage and fortitude. Alicia Caperton can tell you that. “You hear about it all the time, but you don’t really comprehend it until you go through it,” Caperton said, Her husband, Staff Sergeant Clinton Caperton is serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserves. It is his second tour of duty there.

In Iraq, Caperton serves with the 688th Engineer Mobile Augmentation Company (688 MAC).

“Clinton’s unit looks for IEDs and clears them,” Alicia said. “He runs a robot from a computer screen inside his armored vehicle (called a buffalo), and the robot checks out bombs to determine if Clinton and his crew can dismantle them, or if they need to call in a higher-level bomb squad.”

Her husband’s first tour of duty was in 2003-04, performing essentially the same task, “except they didn’t have robots and Clinton was the driver” Alicia said.

He joined the Army Reserves right out of Branson High School. “It was a big adventure,” Alicia said. “Now that he is married, older, wiser, he finds it more difficult. Before he used to give away his leave time, now he can’t wait to come home.”

The couple live with the reality that after returning home, Clinton could be called back yet again to Iraq. Still, facing that possibility, Alicia said that, “Clinton loves his job and he’s very close to the men he serves with, he’s very much a military man. He’s very proud to have served his country.”

Originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., Alicia went to school at College of the Ozarks. After a stint with Dixie Stampede in Orlando, she played the heroine in The Shepherd of the Hills outdoor production. Clinton who had just returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq acted opposite her as the play’s lead character Young Matt. The two onstage romantic leads fell in love for real and married in 2005 at Shepherd of the Hills, in “a beautiful outdoor ceremony.”

Alicia presently works as a lead animal handler at Sight and Sound. One week after getting that job and a house, Clinton was called-up for another Iraq tour. “I’m extremely proud and glad he’s serving his country,” Alicia said. Clinton is the kind of soldier that, when you say duty, honor, and all that goes with it, he’s the epitome of it. He takes it seriously, and he’s good at it.

“On the other side, it’s not easy. It’s kind of like going back to being single, without actually being single. All of the little things he took care of, now I have to do it on my own. He’s not there to give me the little hugs and things. And, when your husband is serving overseas you can’t just pick up the phone and call him.

“There are times when all I want is to hug him and hear his voice, and he’s not there,” Alicia said. She has learned ways to cope with missing her husband. “I call family members or another of the wives in the unit. Having my job at Sights and Sounds Theater helps a lot. I stay very busy, remind myself of how proud of him I am and why I love him, and I pray a lot.

“I am different from the other wives. I don’t listen a lot to reports on the news. I don’t dwell on it. I have also partially prepared myself… what if…,” she said. “I don’t let it scare me, though, because I know with him, if he dies, he will have given his life for someone.”

There is some access for the couple to communicate. “This is a new kind of war, so to speak,” Alicia said. “Now we have internet and phone access. Clinton and I can sometimes chat one or two times a week. Five years ago, you couldn’t do this.” She stills keeps the tradition of saving his letters and his voicemails for the children she and Clinton hope to have.

Alicia also relies on the support from her unit’s Family Readiness Group, a command-sponsored organization of family members, volunteers, and soldiers that are associated with Caperton’s unit. She is especially grateful for the support given by other women in the FRG. “You think you know, but until you go through it you may have sympathy but not empathy,” Alicia said. “Hearing what they are going through helps you remember that you’re not going through this alone.

“Family and friends are great, but it’s just not the same. It’s like only half of you is there,” Alicia said.

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