Capt. Cassandra Ades spent her childhood playing soldier in the desert scrub surrounding her Newberry Springs home, building army forts with her sisters.

At 17, she joined the U.S. Army and left for basic training two days after graduating from Silver Valley High School in 1993. Ades, 35, received her first commission to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and will complete her second tour of duty at the end of October.

She will return home to Newberry Springs in April a company commander with the 3rd Infantry Division currently responsible for 383 soldiers and 33 attachments and civilians and $46 million of property across northern Iraq. As headquarters company commander, Ades helped soldiers keep an eye on each other's physical and psychological well-being as well as helped them achieve personal goals.

Participating in the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ades was able to spend some time with the country's people. Last week, she said she had dinner with a family who were talking about the changing status of women in Iraq.

"They sit at the same dinner tables as we do," Ades said. "They have the same compassion and love wtihin their families that we do. They're real people who have a lot of hope."

Ades will reunite with her 13-year-old daughter Audra after 13 months of communicating with her via Skype. Audra, who has lived in Apple Valley with her father, will come live with her mom, who is stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga.

"I think that now my daughter and I get to take our life out of storage," Ades said. "I just want to dance in my living room with my kid. She's young and fun and I can't wait to see (her life) and be part of it."

Ades' parents moved her, her identical twin, Brandi Cripzer, and their siblings to a home on Minneola Road near the Barstow-Daggett airport in 1984. Her father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Ades was involved in soccer, cheerleading and other sports when she was in school.

Cripzer, whose husband is also stationed at Fort Stewart, said during Ades initial deployment in Iraq her husband was also deployed. Ades is Cripzer's best friend and being without her and a husband was tough.

"I'll be very happy to have her back," Cripzer said. "Since we're twins, we know each other better than anybody else. We have the same sense of humor."

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com