Kids Live With Aunt When Parents Deploy to Afghanistan Together

Abby and Rob Walker were deployed to Afghanistan for nine months.

ByABC News via logo
October 6, 2014, 11:32 AM

— -- With nearly 35 years of combined military service, Abby and Rob Walker understand the sacrifice of serving their country, but that sacrifice took on a whole new meaning this year when they were both deployed to Afghanistan, leaving their children behind for nine months.

“We found out about eight months before we were deploying it was a possibility both of us could go. And the first person who came to mind was my sister,” Abby Walker said. “If there was anybody who could take care of our kids, it would be her and her family.”

The husband and wife both serve in the Georgia Army National Guard. They are parents to two children, ages 6 and 3.

Abby Walker’s older sister, Allyson Bendorf, and her husband, Dave Bendorf, were raising five children of their own in Harlan, Iowa, but they never hesitated when they were asked to help.

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The Walkers talked about their relatives’ generosity with "Good Morning America's" Tim Tebow. Abby Walker grew emotional, and her husband said being able to trust his children to his sister-in-law was “irreplaceable.

"I mean Dave, too. Dave was right there. My son calls Dave 'dad,'" Rob Walker said, laughing.

"I'm just blessed to have a sister who, you know, didn't hesitate," Abby Walker said. "And just took care of them and kept them on the right path in life for the year we were gone."

Bendorf was only too willing to perform what she considered to be her duty.

“I really believe in duty to your family and to God and to your country," Bendorf said. "I feel like just being able to watch her kids makes me feel like I had a little part in that."

The Walkers found the separation from their children tough, even knowing they were in good hands.

“I think it was hard seeing Ella, like, she learned to ride a bike when we were gone,” Abby Walker said. “ And just a lot of people they were like, 'Oh, that's not a big deal, your kid learned how to ride a bike.’ But that's my first kid. You know? And to not be there, it was hard.”

Other milestones that they missed including Ella losing “half the teeth in her mouth,” and Noah beginning to talk.

When Tebow asked the children if they thought their parents were heroes, Ella nodded. When Tebow asked her why, she said: “Because they save the world.”

His children's opinion mean a lot to Rob Walker.

“There's really nothing comparable to seeing your kids again and knowing that they think you're some kind of hero,” he said. “You go out that night and the little ones are just hanging off your arms and you're just on top of the world.”