Passion crosses oceans, battlefields
Somewhere across the dusty terrain of Iraq, a soldier prepares his bunk for rest. He opens a plastic bag and pulls out a black satin pillow drenched in perfume. Now he can sleep with the essence of his beautiful bride.
A little black satin pillow is how Corporal Jose Resto kept the “spirit” of his wife Eddy with him on an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with Covington-based Army National Guard B Company 1121 Infantry Division.
Shortly after Jose and Eddy were married in July 2004 he had to report for six months of training before his deployment.
“I was not very easy honestly,” Eddy said. “I thought, we have just gotten married and we have to put aside all of our plans.”
None of her family had ever served in the armed forces, so it was hard for her to understand why he had to leave — especially why he had to close his longdreamed-of mechanic shop.
He did his best to explain to her that no one was forcing him to go; it was something he wanted to do for his country.
Once people began to thank Eddy for her husband’s service and her sacrifice, she became proud and began to understand why he and so many others chose to fight.
“As a wife, it’s my duty to support him,” Eddy said. Love at first pump
When Jose pulled into gas station in Jonesboro to fill up in 1995, he never expected to meet the woman he was going to marry.
Eddy had a slow air leak in one of her back tires and pulled in the same station.
Jose was intrigued by the tiny, bronze woman who emerged from the huge van and went over to see if he could offer any assistance.
“I fell in love with the accent,” Jose said of Eddy’s Honduran dialect.
Both felt like they knew each other from somewhere.
“His eyes were shiny and they lit up when he saw me,” Eddy said. “I said to myself ‘if he follows me, he’s mine.’”
Jose offered to bring her a new tire if she would give him her number and address. She agreed to the sly trick.
Speeding home, Jose grabbed any tire — if the tire didn’t fit it gave him an excuse to meet with her again.
All of Jose and Eddy’s friends and family, even the owners of the store, know the story of the gas station.
Their wedding party even met at the same station to caravan to the base where they had a military style ceremony. Over there
The night before Jose was deployed, he asked Eddy to sleep in his T-shirt. The next morning he neatly folded the shirt and stuffed it into a plastic bag.
After a while the shirt no longer smelled like his wife, so she sent him a black satin pillow soaked in his favorite of her perfumes.
Eddy also sent little items to him such as a backscratcher with a note reading “do you need a helping hand?” and spices and canned foods for the chef-side of her solider.
“It got to where any time I got a package, the boys would say ‘what did we get,’” Jose said.
Eddy said it was important to send him small things to let him know he was missed back home and help him to remember what he was fighting to protect.
Jose told Eddy about the shirt during one of the many online chats they had everyday. He purchased a satellite and two Webcams so they could see each other even though he was an ocean away. The equipment was expensive, but both said it was money well spent.
“At the end of every patrol, I would tell her to get online and we would chat for hours, everyday,” Jose said. “As long as I got to see her everyday, it made it easier.”
Being gone for a year and a half, Jose did miss some very important times.
“I spent my first anniversary in Iraq,” Jose said.
His best man served in the same unit, so he and Jose ate a less-thanromantic meal in the chow hall that night.
He also missed the birth of his first grandchild but still purchased her crib and some other gifts for her online.
Eddy did her best to gather friends and family once a week to sit in front of the camera and chat with Jose.
On Mother’s Day she secretly installed a Webcam on her mother-in-law’s computer.
“I said ‘mom, mom come in here, there’s something wrong with your computer,’” Eddy said. “She came in and saw his face and fainted.”
It’s a moment that happened while Jose was thousands of miles away, but that he and his family share because of the Internet. A soldier’s wife
Soldiers’ wives have the difficult task of managing the home without the help of their husbands when they are on active duty.
Eddy never mentioned little problems on any of their chats because she said he needed to focus on his mission. She didn’t even tell him when his pit bull was stolen out of their backyard.
One day he asked to see E.J. — named for their initials—so she had to tell him.
Because he seemed so upset, she purchased two female Chihuahua and dachshund mixes and waited for him to come home to name them.
Missy and Minnie love their daddy.
The worrying is the worst part according to Eddy.
“I was a slave to the news,” Eddy said.
One morning a friend called her and said Jose was on the front page of the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”
Without waiting for an explanation, she raced to the nearest convenience store to grab a copy. An embedded reporter had documented Jose’s patrol unit coming under enemy fire.
She called him on an emergency cell phone, and he assured her he was unharmed. Still, she said it was hard to switch from panicmode back into a normal attitude and go about her day as usual. Back home
Eddy said as excited as wives are to have husbands back home, they should allow them to resume their household duties as well as show affection in a gradual manner.
“They have not just been camping, on a picnic,” Eddy said. “They have been in a war zone.”
She said as much as wives want to unload, normalcy must be attained slowly.
“I always say it takes a very special woman to be a soldier’s wife,” Jose said. “In my opinion, they deserve a medal.”
Both Eddy and Jose have become involved in Operation Sandbox, a greater metro Atlanta organization dedicated to sending care packages to soldiers overseas.
“It’s very important for every soldier to feel like they are missed back home,” Jose said.
He said helping with Operation Sandbox activities is his way of giving back the thoughtfulness he received while in Iraq.
Eddy is working to keep all the wives in the unit in touch even while their husbands are at home, creating a strong support network for when they ship out again.
B Company is due to redeploy on a year-long tour in Afghanistan in 2009.
Jose and Eddy know they have what it takes keep the romance thriving and their relationship strong.
They encouraged soldiers who may not be able to afford the satellite system they used to stay in touch, to write everyday or call their loved ones regularly. However, they said the advice doesn’t only apply to military families.
“Everybody that’s married should see to it that they keep communication open to keep their relationship alive,” Jose said.
Lasting love: Jose and Eddy Resto gaze into each others eyes as they spend time together at the Covington Armory.