Time with Abbie: Soldier returns home after tour in Kuwait

Published 11:56 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

Nearly one full year after deployment, a Natchez soldier returned home to his 4-year-old daughter last week.

Jacob Colón left home for training at Fort Bliss, Texas, last March before his deployment to Kuwait the following July.

At the time, his daughter, Abigail “Abbie” Noel Colón could barely talk, he said.

The months that followed were the hottest and driest he’d ever experienced, Colón said.

“Where we were, there was no grass or trees,” he said. “We also had the potential for mud storms, where you get a nice sand storm going and then it rains. … It was like 120 degrees when we got there. … When we stepped off of the plane, I just about died. … Here it gets hot and humid and it’s yucky, but there it’s just dry and feels like you’re just cooking.”

Colón said he stayed in Egypt for approximately a month for training with soldiers from across the U.S. and other parts of the world and later offered medical support in a combat zone in Syria.

The majority of his deployment, however, Colón said his unit stood by for armed support in Kuwait surrounded by a desert with sand-colored buildings and a few scattered bushes that were barely alive.

As a medic, Colón said he worked on call during all hours of the day or night for anyone who needed help, whether for illness, injury or for mental health needs.

On the home front, little Abbie had a dinosaur princess birthday party last October and learned to talk in full sentences, said her mom, Elizabeth Colón.

“(Abbie) called him and talked on Facebook two or three times a week,” she said. “Other times she didn’t want to talk to him because she was angry. … She didn’t understand why he wasn’t there.”

Meanwhile, Jacob Colón said he grew accustomed to staying in one place for long periods of time and eating from a selection of two or three different restaurants that were close his base, but he said the most difficult part was missing his daughter.

The family was reunited last week in Jackson. Abbie went to watch the “The Lego Movie 2” for the second time — but that time she had her daddy with her and hugged him tightly before going into the theater.

“We didn’t have any transportation except for bikes and walking,” Colón said. “The only restaurants we had were right there around the base. … We could relax, but we had to be ready to get up and go do something at all times. Here, the only place I have to be is with my kid. It’s nice.”