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Army officer back as Babylon councilwoman

Joe Ingino, a Vietnam veteran and Lindenhurst resident,

Joe Ingino, a Vietnam veteran and Lindenhurst resident, shares a tearful and emotional moment with Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who recently returned from her fourth deployment as a member of the Army Reserves. (Nov. 15, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Danielle Finkelstein

The motion to adjourn the Babylon Town board meeting Thursday came from a voice that had been noticeably absent from town hall this year.

"Councilwoman Gordon, motion to adjourn?" asked Supervisor Richard Schaffer. "I like saying that!"

Jackie Gordon, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who was deployed to Afghanistan in January, made the motion, capping a day when the town board officially reinstated her as councilwoman, a post she's held since 2006.

Gordon, 47, commands the Uniondale-based 310th Military Police Battalion, which worked with the Afghan national army training correction officers.

She returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, in September. Last week, she resumed work as a guidance counselor for Western Suffolk BOCES.

Thursday, the Copiague resident was presented a framed flag that had flown outside town hall in her absence.

"Deployments are tough," Gordon told the crowd, who gave her and outgoing councilwoman Ellen McVeety standing ovations. But, she said, the stress was lightened by support from the town and local organizations, which sent cards and care packages.

"To know I had people back here rooting for me and expecting me to come back here made it easier for me," she said, starting to cry.

McVeety filled in for Gordon during the deployment, postponing her own retirement. In presenting her with a proclamation from the town, Schaffer described McVeety as a "treasure." McVeety said her 24 years working for the town had been a "great ride." She said she plans to continue volunteering for the town and will chair the superstorm Sandy relief effort.

Born in Jamaica, West Indies, Gordon has been in the Army Reserve since 1984. She served in Germany in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002; and Baghdad in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Gordon, who has two adult children, said her fourth deployment was "more taxing" than previous missions. She said she often wondered if the Afghans would be ready to take over by the 2014 deadline for U.S. troop pullout. "Working with them, it's always in the back of your mind, 'How much of an impact am I really having?' " she said.

Returning to her public post more than two weeks into the storm recovery has Gordon a little nervous, she said. "It's a challenge," she said. "But it's a challenge I know I'll be able to overcome."

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