Isaac and Joey's dad Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch is deployed to Afghanistan. Their mother is not in their lives. So for a year, while their dad is at war, the boys are forced to leave their home in upstate NY to go live with their uncle in Wautoma, Wis. Without the stability of their only parent, the boys have to adapt to a new environment and new school during the length of the deployment, waiting for dad to get home safe.
So began a season of adjustments as the boys came to live in their uncle’s home here. Joey, the 8-year-old, got into fistfights at his new school. His 12-year-old brother, Isaac, rebelled against their uncle’s rules. And Shawn Eisch’s three children quietly resented sharing a bedroom, the family computer and, most of all, their parents’ attention with their younger cousins.
Isaac Eisch climbs out of the pond while duck hunting with their uncle in Wautoma, Wis. Thanks to their uncle, the brothers are introduced to a routined schedule and are kept busy with outdoor activities, while their father is deployed in Afghanistan.
Joey Eisch falls asleep in the cafeteria while the class recess for lunch. The deployment has been hard on Joey and has affected his performance in school and his social behavior towards other students. Most recently, Joey got into a fight and he police was called. Joey was suspended from school due to the incident.
Isaac Eisch's little hands cling together as he embraces his father. In September, Sergeant First Class Eisch got to return home for midtown leave to be with his sons.
Sergeant First Class Eisch holds on the Isaac, as he sleeps by his side. Father and sons spent the first nights in hotels, visited an amusement park, went fishing and traveled to New York City, where they saw Times Square and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The Eischs were inseparable.
The Eisch family stops at a gas station for beverages and supplies before a homecoming dinner party planned for Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch's mid-tour leave.
Friends and family of the Eisch family dine together to celebrate Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch's mid-tour leave in Appleton, Wis.
Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch spends time with Joey at the pool. "When my dad left, I thought I didn't want him to go just in case he got shot. Now I know he's going to make it because he is already over half way through," says Joey.
The boys sleep together with their father on their last night together before Sergeant First Class Eisch leaves to resume his tour of duty in Afghanistan. The two weeks were over in what seemed like hours. In his final days, Sergeant Eisch had prepped the boys for his departure, but that did not make it any easier.
Joey and Issac spend what little time they had left with their father, Sergeant First Class Eisch before his flight departs from Appleton, Wis. Sergeant Eisch has to resume his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
As the departure gate empties out into the boarding plane, Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch says goodbye to both his sons with a quiet embrace.
Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch weeps, as he struggles to say goodbye to his children.
Isaac sits alone, outside his uncle's house as the sun sets over the wide open road.
Six weeks after he returned to duty in Afghanistan, Sergeant First Class Eisch was shot 3 times total in both legs, at a firefight in Kunduz City, during a major offensive in the Taliban stronghold, while trying to save the life of a Afghan National Police. He has been flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital for extensive surgery and treatment for his wounds.
Isaac embraces his brother, Joey at their grandfather's home in Appleton, Wis.
Sergeant First Class Eisch grimaces in pain as his injury is being treated.
Sergeant First Class Eisch sits in recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The boys have since visited him and are waiting for his return in Wautoma, WI. “Brian came home,” Shawn Eisch said one evening after visiting his brother in the hospital. “He didn’t come home like we hoped he would come home, but he came home.”
"I question myself everyday if I'm doing the right thing for my kids. Am I raising them right. I'm trying to do my duty to my country and deploy and do what Uncle Sam asked me to do. But what's everybody asking my boys to do? What are they supposed to do?" - Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch.