Local soldier in a safe place | SierraSun.com

Local soldier in a safe place

Renee Shadforth

The last time Bill Yokem talked to his daughter Amber was Monday morning at 2 a.m.

There’s a 12-hour time difference from where she is stationed on an airforce base in the Middle East – in a location her parents cannot disclose.

“She told us she’s in one of the safest places possible,” Yokem said of the Tahoe Truckee High School graduate, who was deployed about one month.

Yokem said his daughter sounded in much higher spirits since the last time they talked when she was helping build a base for her unit and seemed worn out.

“She sounds more grown up. She’s always been responsible. But if she hasn’t grown up yet, this should do it,” he said.

In their most recent phone call, Amber said her unit just hooked up a television.

“She was always asking me the news,” he said. “She was a little nervous about not knowing what was going on.”

Also, Amber’s lieutenant got on the phone and told Yokem his daughter was doing well.

“Her lieutenant said he hasn’t seen anybody like her in a long time,” Yokem said proudly.

In the hot and dusty climate, pounded by sandstorms, Amber has spent her days readying supplies for troops and learning how to drive a fire truck.

Only recently was she able to give her parents an address where they can send packages. Yokem said his family is assembling a box of toilet paper, hair products, cookies, “woman stuff,” and phone cards – a highly valued item for the troops, he said.

Each member of the Yokem family is also writing Amber a letter. Amber’s younger brother’s class is sending letters to the troops along with her package.

“My son is 12 and he hears stuff at school that is for and against the war, and he doesn’t know what to think,” Yokem said. “He just wants his sister to come home.”

Yokem, who moved with his family from Truckee to Gardnerville a few months ago, said he already has plans for Amber’s return.

“I want to have a little party for her and invite her friends,” he said. “I want to give her a real hero’s welcome.”