Unexpected Deployment Leaves Longview Woman Handling Full Load of Life

"He wanted to drive big trucks and tractors and he liked the military life, and he liked the idea of readiness for his country," says Linda Nelson of her husband, Tom.

He's been ready for nearly 30 years. Tom's been a member of a special part of the Air Force Reserve. Civil Engineers... many like Tom in their 50s. "They're getting a little long in the tooth," says Linda.

They've never been called up before -- not in Desert Storm, not after 9/11. So, in December, he goes to his normal training at Barksdale.

Linda: "I was reading the newspaper, and he walked in the door, and I said, 'Hello, citizen soldier.' And he said, 'Interesting you should mention that.'"

He was activated -- sent to the Persian Gulf with just days notice. "I just could not believe it," says Linda. No phone calls or e-mail yet. She is told they will be few and far between.

As she looks back at her wedding day 32 years ago, she recalls Tom almost immediately left for a year in Korea. Since then though, they've never been apart.

"It's not dissimilar to divorce, because the person is still alive, but I have no relationship with him," she says. Day to day living is far different for Linda, without the man who shared the load of life.

"I've been living with this one for thirty two years. And it's going to take you a little while to adjust. From taking out the trash, to missing my companion of all those years."

The man of the house now is named Jake. He's a six year old German Shepherd dog. "I have a serious alarm system here."

Tom isn't on the front lines, but still could be in harm's way. She is concerned. He never was.

"With little regard for any other thing, when he got the call, he left."

Tom's deployment could last up to a year.

"I'll be glad to have him home, I miss my yard man."

Morgan Palmer, reporting.