Muskogee soldier returns to his wife on first anniversary after deployment with Oklahoma's 45th
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Friday, April 06, 2012
4/06/12 at 7:30 AM
View photos and an interactive map of the 45th Infantry Brigade of the
Oklahoma Army National Guard.
OKLAHOMA CITY - A year ago Thursday, Spc. Joshua and Kaylynn Tootill were married in Muskogee while Joshua was on leave from preparing for a deployment with the Oklahoma National Guard.
He knew it could be dangerous, and he wanted the woman he loved to be cared for.
"He wanted to get married to know if something happened, I would be taken care of," Kaylynn Tootill said.
That four-day leave and another four days in June was the entirety of their marriage together.
Until Thursday, when they spent their first wedding anniversary finally in each other's arms.
Joshua Tootill was one of 209 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers who returned to Oklahoma, leaving only one more large group of soldiers left to arrive in the Sooner State on Saturday. Most of the soldiers to return Thursday were with the 160th Field Artillery, headquartered in Chandler.
Another group of about 150 soldiers is to arrive at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base.
In all, 3,000 soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait last summer for a nine-month deployment. Most of those have returned to the state in homecoming ceremonies over the past two months.
Kaylynn Tootill said the two were introduced through friends in Muskogee the summer before they married. After dating for several months, Joshua Tootill asked to marry her. She said no.
"He knew he was deploying," she said. "He was very persistent."
He did eventually win her over, and they decided to get married April 5, 2011.
"We had a really nice wedding," she said, adding that it was held in a small church with a handful of friends and family.
"He had it all planned out in his head exactly how he wanted," she said.
After they were married, he took off again to continue preparing for deployment. At that time, the soldiers believed they were all being deployed to Afghanistan. It wasn't until after he visited his wife in June did Joshua Tootill learn he was going to Kuwait with 800 other soldiers to support operations there.
That changed things for Kaylynn Tootill. The soldiers knew the mission in Afghanistan was more dangerous. Fourteen soldiers from the 45th IBCT were killed in action there.
"It did change, but it was still the emotion that he wasn't going to be by my side every day," she said.
That June leave was the last time the two saw each other until Thursday.
"It's been a long time," Joshua Tootill said, trying to find the words to describe his emotion as he hugged his wife. "You can't say how much you miss someone."
The hundreds of family and friends who had gathered in the hangar Thursday knew the feeling. Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, adjutant general for the state, said he understands the pain and pressure the separation creates.
"You've endured 12 months of it and we're getting ready to fix that," he said.
Gov. Mary Fallin also spoke to the soldiers, not only thanking them but also their families for their sacrifices.
"Thank you for the people of Oklahoma for what you've done to protect our freedom," Fallin said. "It's not only a sacrifice for the soldiers, it's a sacrifice for the families here."
For Joshua and Kaylynn Tootill, after sacrificing their first year of marriage, now they can finally start their lives.
"We'll finally be able to be the family we are," Joshua Tootill said. "Wherever the Lord takes us."
Original Print Headline: Soldier returns to wife on first anniversary
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Oklahoma Army National Guard Spc. Joshua Tootill hugs his wife, Kaylynn Tootill of Muskogee, after a homecoming ceremony for members of the 160th Field Artillery unit of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Oklahoma City on Thursday. ALONZO J. ADAMS/ For the Tulsa World
Kaylynn Tootill (center) of Muskogee cheers as her husband and members of the 160th Field Artillery unit of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrive for a homecoming ceremony at the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City on Thursday. ALONZO J. ADAMS/for the Tulsa World
Oklahoma National Guard members of the 160th Field Artillery unit of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team stand in formation during a homecoming ceremony at the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base on Thursday in Oklahoma City. ALONZO J. ADAMS/for the Tulsa World
Families and friends of returning Oklahoma National Guard soldiers cheer as they arrive for a homecoming ceremony in Oklahoma City on Thursday. ALONZO J. ADAMS/for the Tulsa World