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54th MP Company comes home to JBLM

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Spc. Ryan Tremble has watched his 9-month-old daughter, Jade, grow up like most other parents do - a little bit at a time.

But he's witnessed it all from behind a screen. No touching, no playing, no holding. For the 22-year-old, his daughter's life has been more of a movie than anything else.

Through photos, videos and over webcam - when variable internet connectivity came through for him - Tremble saw as many moments of his Jade's life unfold as his wife could manage for him.

But no technology, no matter how advanced, can ever compare to the real thing.

Tremble met Jade in person for the first time, March 24, when he and the rest of the 54th Military Police Company returned from a year-long tour to Afghanistan.

The Goldendale, Wash., native was all smiles and few words as a formation made up of him and 159 others tore apart and the Soldiers reunited with their loved ones.

"This is a hell of a lot better than everything," he said, recalling hundreds of photos and videos he saw of Jade from Afghanistan. "It doesn't even compare.

"This is the best day of my life because I get to hold my little girl."

Tremble had originally planned on making his daughter's birth. He took his mid-tour leave early and headed home to see his family with hope his plans would pan out.

But Jade came just a little too late.

"He was angry," said Dianna Tremble, Ryan's wife. "He really wanted to be there for his first child's birth, and he missed it by just two days.

"It was bad timing."

"I really wanted to be there," Ryan said. "I was kind of depressed a little bit, just because I wasn't there to help my wife through it."

Instead, he helped her over the phone, talking and comforting her through labor from thousands of miles away.

Before long, though, Dianna felt like a single mother.

"It was hard going out and seeing the dads with their daughters or their sons," said Dianna, a Los Angeles native. "It was like I was a single parent. And it sucked, because no one ever wants to do that alone."

She described hers and Ryan's reunion as dating all over again.

"You get those butterflies, and you're really nervous to see your date and how it's going to go, because you don't know what's going to happen," she said.

Now, the two are looking forward to the rest of their lives, relishing the time they'll have together.

And for Ryan's battalion, the sentiment is the same.

The 504th MP Battalion, which encompasses the 54th MP Company and five other similar companies, has not been at home as a whole for three years.

Because the battalion simultaneously upholds two missions - supporting the JBLM community with law enforcement and training host-nation police abroad - its six companies have only been stateside together two other times in the last 11 years.

Even then, their reunion lasted six months or less.

"The war has really put a stress on the force with us always being decentralized and deployed," said Lt. Col. Lamar Parsons, commander for the 504th. "To be back together as an organization and to build that team, and to really bring the family together - because we're a family-driven organization - it's really awe-inspiring to see the entire formation and for our companies to get to know each other."

Military police companies typically handle missions downrange similar to the 54th's - training the local police force on their weapons, normal police procedure and dismounted tactical maneuvers.

Working between the Logar and Wardak provinces of central Afghanistan, the company's soldiers carried out combined missions with their Afghan counterparts and established a system based off law instead of tribal order.

"We're trying to establish a foundation for them to carry on, and they picked it up very well," said 1st Sgt. Dean Robinson, the company's first sergeant. "It's already shown in the region."

And after what Robinson deems complete mission success, the 54th is preparing to settle back in as the last piece to return home to its battalion family.

"The family's all together," said Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Erickson, the senior enlisted leader for the 504th. "It feels great."

Erickson said the battalion will remain together on JBLM at least through the calendar year.

But the battalion was never really far apart in support and spirit, Parsons said, despite its physical separation.

"We were still together through support of families, through support of chains of commands, through support of friends and fellow soldiers," he said.

After a tough year, Ryan, whose entire family came from Walla Walla, Wash., 300 miles southeast of JBLM, to see him home, is only concerned with the future.

"I can't wait to see where everything takes us," he said.

Photo: Photo by Sgt. Christopher Gaylord

After watching her grow up through photos, video and over webcam, Spc. Ryan Tremble holds his his 9-month-old daughter, Jade, in his arms at Wilson Gym on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, March 24, after returning with the 54th Military Police Company from a yearlong deployment to central Afghanistan. Jade was born just two days after Tremble left home following his mid-tour leave, which he took early in hopes of seeing her birth while home.

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