Picture-Perfect Memories


Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait - Thousands of miles from the United States, in a crowded Army tent he shares with about 60 other soldiers, Pfc. Jacob Ruble studies photographs of his wife Julia.

Hers is the face he longs to see.

The pictures were taken last summer, when Jake was away from Julia for the first time, when he knew for certain he'd be back. In one, she wears blue jeans and a bikini top and stands with her hand on her hip. In another, she is putting up her shoulder-length blond hair.

As soon as he got on the plane March 1, he started to miss her. "Wow," Jake thought. "It's going to be a while."

One picture - taken on their wedding day nearly seven months ago - hangs from a chain around his neck. Another shows her in a porch swing on a summer afternoon back home in Tennessee. That one is his favorite. It conjures up a world far removed from this cramped tent where the odor of young men never dissipates and the plywood floor is gritty with sand.

Jake keeps his pictures of Julia in a green notebook where he writes training times and instructions - and letters home. He spends his days going over squad attacks and platoon plans, readying for war. Even then, Julia is never far from his thoughts.

"I'll think, 'Why am I doing this?' " Then he pictures Julia. "I'm doing this to protect her."

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