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National Guard Soldiers Adjust to Being Away From Home for the Holidays

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Specialist Kevin Reilly of Oxford Junction, 21, and serving with the B. Company 1-133, has formed a bond with his fellow soldiers that feels like a family. But, these guys will never replace the family that raised him. Holidays make the separation even tougher.

"My birthday falls right around Thanksgiving, too. So, that makes Thanksgiving really rough because I've only spent two birthdays from my mom and dad," Spc. Reilly said.
Back in Iowa, Reilly's parents, brother and sister think about him every minute of every day.

"I feel like, as much as I have a son missing, I also have a really good friend missing, too," Spc. Reilly's mother, Carol Reilly, said. "He's the one who understands me the most."

Spc. Reilly said, "My mom is my voice of reason. Whenever I have issues, she's the one I go to. Not being able to call and talk to her has been kind of rough."

When Kevin wasn't helping his mom, he spent a lot of time working with his dad.

"Dad's the handyman around the house. He and I do a lot of work together. I miss he and I working outside," Spc. Reilly said.

John Reilly, Spc. Reilly's father, said, "He's the one that's sensitive to when things need to be done."

This is a sensitive time for the Reillys because two of their other sons are also in the military.

"Even though you're keeping busy and trying to keep it off your mind, it's always there. It's an ever-present loss or absence," Carol Reilly said.

Specialist Coleman Reilly, 23, and serving with the 2/34 BSTB, is in Afghanistan with Kevin right now.

"Coleman's probably the most focused of three. But, when it's time to have fun, he likes to have fun, too," John Reilly said.

Private First Class Jake Reilly, 18, has almost finished his training and may request to deploy to Afghanistan.

"Yep, we cry when you ask where the boys are or how they're doing. We cry because it brings it to the surface. But, we want to know you care, too," Carol Reilly said.

Even though they'll be busy with their missions, all three sons try to stay in contact as much as possible.

"I really love my family a lot," Spc. Kevin Reilly said.

When the deployments are over, the Reilly's dream of the day all seven of them can share a meal around their dinner table once again.

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