Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief

Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Juliussen family feature
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
Subhead: Harpursville grad's family reunion brief
HARPURSVILLE -- It took A.J. Juliussen four days to get home last weekend.
The trip started in the desert of Iraq and took him to Baghdad, then Germany, be
fore he arrived at the Greater Binghamton Airport on Thursday.
Which is when he saw his wife, Kristin, for the first time in three months.
"It didn't seem real," Kristin said. "It didn't seem like he was really there."
"It was the first time I'd been happy in a while," A.J. said.
The airport reunion was the first step of a 17-day homecoming for A.J. Juliussen
, a 20-year-old Harpursville High School graduate who is stationed in Iraq as an
Army specialist with 3/3 ACR Platoon, L-Troop.
He's spending his leave at the house he grew up in on Route 79, a few miles down
the road from Chenango Valley State Park. His plans don't go much beyond spendi
ng time with Kristin and the rest of his family.
The two have a joint birthday party planned (Kristin turned 20 on Monday; A.J. t
urns 21 on July 4). The couple, who were high school sweethearts, will miss cele
brating their one-year anniversary by one day. They were married on June 19, 200
4. A.J. returns to Iraq on June 18.
In a lot of ways, it's a bittersweet reunion for the Juliussen family. Two weeks
isn't nearly enough time to catch up; it's just enough time to make everyone re
alize what they're missing.
"It's hard, because I know I have to go back so soon," A.J. said.
A.J. enlisted in the Army after graduating from Harpursville High School in 2003
. After basic training, he was stationed at Fort Collins, Colo. On March 6, he w
as deployed to Iraq. As an E-4 specialist; he's involved with route reconnaissan
ce. He also drives Bradley tanks and Humvees on occasion.
He doesn't like to talk about specifics when it comes to his job, especially in
front of Kristin.
"We were talking earlier," said Joann Juliussen, his mother. "And he said, 'I tr
aded my wife and my free time for bullets.'"
After A.J. was deployed, Kristin returned home. She took online courses at Broom
e Community College during the spring semester and was the starting shortstop on
the school's softball team, which finished second in last month's national tour
nament.
A.J. tries to call Kristin once a day and his mother once a week. He always call
s Kristin before he goes on a mission, which can last a few days.
"You never know what's going to happen, so I want to tell her I love her," A.J.
said.
The door to the Juliussens' home is adorned with a Blue Star Flag, which signifi
es a loved one serving in the military. There's a small American flag duct-taped
to a roadside mile marker in front of the house.
A framed portrait of A.J. in a tuxedo hangs on the wall just beyond the front do
or. Next to it is a framed print of the Military Prayer. Below that is a green p
late featuring the U.S. Army logo. The clock on the kitchen wall is set to Iraq
time (eight hours ahead).
"The first night he was home, I cried the whole night," Joann said. "I don't kno
w why. I couldn't wait for him to get home. Then when he got here, I couldn't en
joy it."
The Juliussens are doing their best to enjoy these two weeks. The family plans t
o open their pool in the next few days.
A.J. will get plenty of time to enjoy the countryside he never knew he loved unt
il he was sent to the desert.
A.J. and Kristin are starting to make plans for their future when his tour ends
in seven months. They want to build a house in Harpursville. A.J. plans to atten
d BCC.
But all the enjoyment comes with a catch -- one that comes on June 18.
"It's going to be 100 times harder leaving this time," A.J. said.
At one point on Monday afternoon, A.J. and his mother were talking about his gra
ndmother, who passed away in February from Alzheimer's disease.
A.J. joked with his mom that they wouldn't have to worry about something like th
at for another 20 years.
Be careful, Joann warned him. Twenty years can go in a blink of an eye.
"He said 'Mom, can you blink so my tour can be over?' " Joann said.
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com
e-mail: bmoritzpressconnects.com

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