Former Berwyn Heights mayor returns from Iraq deployment
Thursday, August 26, 2010
When former Berwyn Heights mayor Brad Jewitt was deployed to Iraq in 2009, he expected to miss his family and home town but felt comfortable making the sacrifice.
"Many of my peers have served multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Jewitt, 40, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. "I was really at peace with the idea of going, because it was my turn so someone else wouldn't have to go again."
Jewitt -- a Marine reservist who served as mayor in 2003, as a Town Council member in 2002 and as mayor pro tem from 2006 to 2008 -- returned home Aug. 1, after a scheduled one-year tour of duty. His return coincidentally came during the same month that defense officials withdrew all major combat units from Iraq.
The time away gave him a greater appreciation for the civilian lifestyle, he said.
"It's tough leaving your family behind, and a year is a long time," said Jewitt, who lives with his wife, Cheryl, and has a 12-year-old son, Hunter, from a previous marriage. "You realize how well-off we are as a country when you're spending time in a place like Iraq -- a country that has just endured so much war and bloodshed."
Jewitt, who works as director of facilities management for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also was activated and served stateside shortly after the Iraq war began in March 2003. For the past year, he was a team chief of a military unit that helped coordinate the sale of U.S. arms and training to Iraqi Federal Police. For his performance in that job, he was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
Despite working 16-hour days, he was able to talk almost daily with his wife and son by phone and Internet. Cheryl Jewitt said that, although she missed her husband, she was honored to know that his country needed him to serve.
"It just warmed my heart to know how important he is in the Marine Corps," Cheryl Jewitt said, adding that she "cried tears of joy" when his plane landed in Baltimore on Aug. 1. "I can take the trash out by myself. I can cook by myself. But the things that you do together, you miss them."
Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo said he was reminded nearly every day of Jewitt's service when he walked his dog past the Jewitts' house. Jewitt was especially valuable as a councilman and director of town code enforcement, Calvo said, adding that his presence has been missed not only on the council, but in the town as a whole.
"Brad was terrific to work with. . . . He always had a view of big picture as well as day-to-day judgment," Calvo said. "We're thrilled to have him home safely. We appreciate his service."
Jewitt, who lost a 2004 bid for the U.S. House of Representatives to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Dist. 5) of Mechanicsville, drew parallels between serving his country as a Marine and serving Berwyn Heights as a mayor and councilman. Although he hasn't decided whether to run in the town's next election in 2012, he greatly enjoys representing his neighbors and helping to improve his town, he said.
"It's just about a sense of serving," Jewitt said. "The reality is that serving in the town is closest to the people. You actually can see the results. It's very satisfying to be a part of that."