By Peter Becker
KILLEEN, TEXAS - He's completed two tours in Afghanistan and was severely wounded in combat the first time around. Yet Captain Jacob Watson said he was "a little nervous" on April 4 on his special assignment. He was arriving home to his wife Brittany and was about to meet his baby daughter Hayden for the first time.
"The feeling subsided when I held her in my arms," he said of his little girl. Hayden was born February 19. "Words cannot describe it, it was an unbelievable feeling. When I left [for Afghanistan] I didn't have a daughter. I came back to a whole new world."
Watson is a 2003 graduate of Honesdale High School, the son of Jim and Brenda Watson of Honesdale. His father works at Watson Bros. garage in White Mills. Jacob's grandmother Irene Eisele, and grandparents Jim and Jean Watson, live on Long Ridge Road near Hawley.
In 2008 he graduated from West Point.
His second deployment to Afghanistan last six months. He was to have stayed another three months but was granted authorization to return to start an engineering course in July, at Fort Leonardwood, NJ. He also arranged with his commander to be home within seven weeks of his daughter's birth.
Thankful to modern technology, the soldier was able to watch their baby being born through Skype. He said he was thankful the Internet connection lasted.
When he was injured in combat in September 2010 he had to be flown back to the States for recovery. He was a First Lieutenant at the time, when he was hit by an IED explosion on the side of the road.
The Captain stated that he wasn't done in his service in Afghanistan, and during rehabilitation he worked towards to goal of returning.
On his second tour he was assigned as a platoon leader and spent more of his time on base than out on patrol. He said that he could see a real difference in the war effort the second time around. He observed that the Afghan National Army has come a long way, and is taking pride in taking more of a leadership role. The U.S. Forces, meanwhile, are drawing down, and he said he could see "all over" the effects of cuts in the military budget.
With the warmer weather returning in Afghanistan, he said the"fighting season" is beginning. He noted that the U.S. troops over there are "very capable and well trained."
He stated that as of now he is planning a military career, although he taking "one step at a time." While he did not expect another deployment at least for a year or a year and a half, Captain Watson added, "You never know in this world."
He is a member of the 28th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army.
Captain Watson said he remains very proud of his country, which is the whole reason he joined the Army.
For now, he is home with his wife and baby in Texas, where he says he is "learning to be Daddy." He is undergoing re-integration training, while he helps his wife at home. They look forward to visiting his family back in Wayne County, he said.