Posts by mking:
A little over a month ago, our second son was born. As we have spent the last month adjusting to have both an 18 month old and a newborn, new fears have come into play. Deployment… My husband and I have both been deployed twice, I know the deal. I’ve been both the deployed soldier and the spouse in the rear, but I’ve never been the mom in the rear. My husband is gone on a regular basis and when my oldest son was under a year old, the adjustment to daddy being gone seemed to go okay. In the last four months, he has been gone about nine weeks of it and these separations have been a lot more difficult. That’s the part that is making me dread the longer separation.
Throughout this month, we celebrate our military children. Prior to having children of my own, this was a month I was aware of and from time to time I participated in putting on some of the events for it, but this year I think is when it has hit the closest to home thus far. My son loves hearing the sound of helicopters flying over – he will sign ‘helicopter’ and run to the back door yelling ‘daddy’. Since daddy is a blackhawk crew chief, he has associated the two together. When daddy is gone, the nightmares start and given his age there isn’t a way to explain why daddy isn’t home. This is a challenge that I know all too many children have gone through, a challenge I know that the parent at home has endured for so many years.
These military children don’t sign up for this lifestyle, they just know to stand proudly by their soldier. I have learned they are some of the most amazing kids that you can meet and I look forward to watching my brave little guys continue to grow!
Over the last couple of months, families have been returning to a whole entity as soldiers have returned home from Afghanistan. I’ve attended a number of these and each one is special, not only to the families, but to anyone who is there to witness it. I’ve seen so many children meeting their daddy for the first time and the overwhelming emotion that comes with that. There was one homecoming that was unique for me though.
The soldier was on his first deployment and his four year old son, like any military child, was having a hard time dealing with daddy being gone. Everytime his mom, brother and him passed a wishing well, he wished for daddy to come home. When he sat down to write his letter to Santa, there was one wish for Christmas – for daddy to come home. This made his mom start thinking about a way for Santa to actually deliver daddy. A couple months before her husband was due home, we had talked about this plan, but she wasn’t sure where she would find a Santa after Christmas time. Luck would have it, that a family friend of my family happens to play Santa on a regular basis and when he heard the story of this little boy’s wish, he agreed to make the drive to Fort Riley to be the Santa for this special homecoming.
As Christmas came and went, the little boy grew anxious that daddy hadn’t made it home yet, but after receiving a letter from Santa telling him that he was working very hard to make his special wish come true. With that being said, he wasn’t going to be able to meet the little boy’s wish by Christmas, but to be patient and he would continue working on it.
The day finally came that the soldier arrived home. His wife went and met him at the homecoming ceremony and then started the surprise homecoming in motion. Santa went and met the soldier while the mommy went and picked up the two boys. After the boys and mom arrived back at their home, there was a knock at the door – it was Santa! As he came in, he talked to the boys about being good and what they had wanted for Christmas. He then gave each of them a piece of ribbon and told them to start pulling on it. As they pulled, their daddy appeared in the front door. Santa had delivered this little boy’s wish!
My first impression of my husband wasn’t good. I thought he was the most cocky, arrogant individual I had ever met. We were scheduled on a flight together during our first deployment. He was a brand new crew chief who was just starting to fly on missions outside the wire, but instead of helping me get the aircraft together, he had volunteered to be featured as a crew chief for a story AFN (Armed Forces Network) was doing. The film crew was staging him in different locations, including the hangar, doing maintenance and then out on the aircraft we were flying on that night ‘prepping’. Throughout this time, I was busy trying to get the aircraft ready, getting the machine guns mounted and just ensuring everything was set to go. Once the film crew made their way out to the aircraft, I was constantly being told that I was in their shot. They didn’t seem to understand that we were still on a timeline. The more times they said something to me, the more irritated I was getting at this new crew chief.
A couple months later, as we were nearing the end of our fifteen month deployment, soldiers in our division started getting in trouble for assaulting female soldiers. Our chain of command decided that females had to have a battle buddy. Most nights, when I got to the end of my shift, I would go to the flight company I flew with to see if there was someone that could walk with me back to my Chu. At this point in time, my husband was still considered one of the ‘new guys’ so he wasn’t on the schedule as often as some of the other senior crew chiefs. This meant that he became my regular battle buddy. The first couple nights, the walk back was relatively quiet. Then one night we started talking about that first flight together. I learned that he had been ‘voluntold’ to do the interview because no one else wanted to do it and he wasn’t any happier about the situation than I had been.
As the nights went on, we got to know each other better. One night, when he didn’t have to go back down to the flight line, he asked if I wanted to walk with him up to the PX area to get a pizza. That was the start of everything. As we talked, we learned more about each other. He was a small town boy from Tennessee with very traditional values and beliefs. We learned about each other’s backgrounds, our families and just spent hours over the next six weeks getting to know each other.
Time came for redeployment. We ended up on two separate flights heading back to Fort Hood roughly nine hours apart. I arrived in the middle of the afternoon and he was expected back close to midnight. My parents had come in to welcome me home and came back with me later that night to welcome him in. I wasn’t sure whether he would recognize me since he had never seen me outside of uniform, with my hair down or with makeup on. As I stood on the parade field looking for him, I spotted him – he had seen me first and was standing there watching to see how long it would take me to see him.
One month later, after asking my dad’s permission, he proposed while we were in my hometown on our post-deployment leave. Two weeks later, on February 19th at the courthouse in Killeen, Texas we were married. We are a few days shy of being married five years now. We have been separated by deployment and TDYs that have been about half of our married time together. We have had our ups and downs, we have pinned each other at promotion ceremonies, we have moved halfway around the world and back, we have deployed and we have welcomed our first little guy into the world and are now awaiting the arrival of our second son.
It’s funny now to look back on that initial first impression and how incredibly wrong I was about that man I fell in love with.
I really struggled with what to write about this time around. Not because there was lack of anything to write, but there is just too much to write about.
As we are all in the first few days of the new year, it’s easy to look forward to all the possibilies that are to come. On the other side, it’s also easy to look back at where we have been. In two days, I will celebrate and look back on a day that has come with many different things over the years. The most challenging of which was that day two years ago.
To start with – it was my birthday… my 29th birthday (the first time around). That, somewhat dreaded, timeframe where you know you have one year left in your twenties, the end of a timeframe that almost seems to symbolize a start to the end of your youth.
At that time I was a soldier – well, it was my last official day as a soldier. About eight months before, I had began the MEB (Medical Evaluation Board) process where the Army had eventually made the decision that I no longer met medical retention requirements. At a 40% disability rating, I was put on orders for a medical retirement – my retirement date just happened to have fallen on my birthday. This in itself was emotional for me. I loved my job, I loved being a soldier. Flying on Blackhawks had always been something I had wanted to do, but for me that time was over. My husband and I had been dual military for three years, so this became a time to transition to being a spouse.
The last of the triple whammy, was a complete blessing. We found out we were expecting our first child!! To say I was an emotional mess would be an understatement. I felt like, just as I was losing who I was, I was gaining another path in life. Although that day was an extremely difficult day, each year I can look back and know that although it was the end of a couple things – it was simply the beginning of something new. No different than the end of each year is a time to look back and reflect on where we have been, the beginning of the new year is an opportunity to make things better – it’s all in how you look at it.