By: Lucy Pruitt
After serving his complete deployment in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Major Chris Peden has returned his home of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He is currently assigned to the 1184th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion in Mobile, Alabama. The group’s job is to facilitate the movement of cargo to and from a Seaport of Debarkation (SPOD). The SPOD is generally the point that all logistics from main battle tanks to food items enter the theater of operation to support an ongoing mission.
Major Peden’s training to deploy actually started in March of 2012. His unit went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for three weeks to train on basic soldiering skills prior to actual mobilization. This training consists of marksmanship, land navigation, and combative skills. The group mobilized at Camp Shelby on April 16, 2012, and they went through the soldier readiness process (SRP). They then completed unit validation, which certified the soldiers to complete the mission at hand. The unit landed in Kuwait on May 9, 2012, where they were attached to the 595th Transportation Battalion. Many of the soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan, as well as the United Arab Emirates. Major Peden served as the Brigade S4 (logistics officer) providing oversight and planning to the 595th Transportation Brigade and all subordinate units. The unit completed its mission and left Kuwait on February 3, 2013.
Upon returning home, the idea to surprise his daughter, Mary Helen Peden, of his arrival was proposed by his wife, Cindy, and the youth minister of Heritage United Methodist Church, J Nelson. Though Peden knew her father was planning to come back home soon, she did not know he was intending to come to the school. Then on February 5 Major Peden arrived at the school during Peden’s third block show choir class. Little did she know she would be interrupted in the middle of her class to see her father for the first time in a year. She knew her dad was coming home but had no clue as to when she would actually see him. Peden’s mother kept the date a secret from her.
The year without her father was a difficult time for Peden. “The hardest part of him being overseas was the separation and not being together as a family,” she said. There were multiple holidays, celebrations, and traditions that were not as family oriented because of his absence, such as her birthday, church events, Oak Grove and MSU football seasons, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
“I was so happy and relieved to know he was home,” she said. “I love my dad, and I was concerned for his safety.”
“We were both very excited about my coming home. As to who was more excited, I believe you could call it a tie,” Major Peden said.
This was Major Peden’s second and final deployment. His last deployment was also to Kuwait with the 1181st DDSB (Deployment Distribution Support Battalion) in 2009. He has plans to retire from the military in June of 2013. “My father had served in the army during WWII, and I felt that it was my patriotic duty to join the military to do my part. The military has provided a good opportunity to give back to my country,” Major Peden said.
Major Peden’s service in the United States Military is much appreciated by all. The Pedens’ story is just one of the many stories of Oak Grove students with family members serving in the military.