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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Independence" Day

Hi Everyone,

I'll be back tomorrow with a July 4 post, but today was a momentous day for our family so I wanted to share.

It was my husband's last day in uniform.  


He will begin terminal leave on Saturday and that goes until the end of September.  The last day of September will be his final day in the Army.

He first enlisted during the fall of his senior year in high school.  The year was 1983--over 30 years ago.

He graduated and left for basic training.  This was all well before I knew him!  He finished basic training and AIT (the course where you learn your "job"--in his case, he was a light vehicle/power generator mechanic.  He had been promised duty in Germany, but decided to go to Airborne school instead, in order to jump out of airplanes.
This is his Airborne school picture.  He was 18 and looks like a child!  
(By the way, he still has that piece of tape with his number on it)

 Instead of Germany, he was assigned to a unit at Fort Bragg.  Part of his duties there included being the driver for his Lieutenant, and that made him think that the Lieutenant wasn't so different than he was, why couldn't he be one, too?  So when his 2-year enlistment was up, he took his GI benefits and went to college.   He stayed in the National Guards and was in ROTC.  He actually was wearing his ROTC uniform when I met him.
Commissioning--with our daughter.


After graduation, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army.  Each officer is assigned a branch--infantry, cavalry, military intelligence, etc.  He wanted the Signal corps--they are in charge of communication.  He had majored in Electronic Engineering Technology/Communication but that is no guarantee in the army.  (We had a neighbor once who was from San Antonio--home of a huge Army hospital--with a degree in medical services who joined and requested the medical corps.  He got Signal.)  Luckily for my husband, though, he was assigned to the Signal Corps, so a few months later we packed up and moved to Fort Gordon, Augusta, GA--home of the Signal Corps--so he could attend the Signal Officer Basic Course--and our Army life was underway!  It was the spring and summer of 1990.  The week before he graduated, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.  He already knew that his first assignment was with the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, TX, and before long, we heard that the division was deploying.  Welcome to the Army!  He had a follow-on course and by the time we arrived at Hood, his unit had already left.  He had about 2 weeks for us to move in and for him to prepare to deploy and then he was gone.  The war was over quickly, though, and he was back safe 6 months later.
Fort Huachuca circa 1997


 Since then, we returned to Gordon for the Advanced Officer Course, then he spent a year unaccompanied in Korea--he was assigned to Camp Greaves which was right on the border with North Korea--they could see the North Korean flag.  After that, we lived at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, returned to Fort Gordon so he could be an instructor for the Advanced Course,  and then Fort Bliss (El Paso) Texas.  We were living there when the terror attack of September 11 occurred.  At the time he was the Signal Officer assigned to a Patriot Missile Brigade.  Over our Christmas leave he found out they were deploying to Kuwait.  They left in January and the Iraq War began in March.  His brigade was responsible for shooting down the few missiles that Iraq launched.  While he was safe, part of his unit was not--the 507th Maintenance Company  was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 11 soldiers and the capture of Jessica Lynch and 5 others.  I think the lowest day of my Army life was the day I attended the memorial service for those soldiers.  Have you ever attended one?  Part of the ceremony involves a Sergeant calling roll.  Their names were called, and the silence of no answer in return had a finality that broke my heart and can still bring tears.

When he returned, we almost immediately moved to Fort Richardson, Alaska--where we were living when our daughter graduated from high school and left for college.  Fort Leavenworth, KS, and then Fort Shafter, Hawaii were our remaining duty stations before here:  Fort Eustis, VA.  While in Hawaii, my husband was deployed to Afghanistan.  Again he was fairly safe--remaining on a camp adjacent to the Kabul airport for the entire deployment.  Thus he is a Veteran of not one, but three different wars.

Today at lunch we were talking.  We agreed that we feel two things:  the first is that a heavy weight is being lifted off our shoulders.  No more can anyone else command the way we live our lives--no more separations/deployments, no more moves, etc.  The second feeling is that of have a safety net moved out from under us--no matter what the army threw at us, we always knew we would have a place to live, and that the paycheck would arrive.  While the feeling is overall bittersweet, I think we are both ready for this chapter of our lives to close, and for a new one to begin.

Have a great day,
JoAnne





26 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading of your experiences and send my thanks to your husband and your family for all you have gone through to serve!
    I'm sure you have said before, but I don't recall--where are you planning to settle, or is it dependent on a job?

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I read it to my husband, who retired from the Army in 2007. His career followed a similar trajectory, also serving in Kuwait and Afganistan. He is my "color commentator" when I work on my quilts. Thank you both for your service. (Those who wait and worry serve too)

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  3. It is so "strange" in a way that you are going through something so similar to what we are going through - and Aaron is in Norfolk! His last day is next Thursday and he'll be on terminal leave until September! I don't think the general population realize what we, and all military families, go through. You as a wife more so than me as a mom, but something we can both relate to. together. I've been a Navy mom for 23 years. That's the identity that I wear proudly. Something that we are so proud of. Please tell your husband that I appreciate the sacrifices he has made for our country. I thank you and your family for the sacrifices that I know you have had to make as well. Here's to starting our new adventures!!!

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  4. Congratulations on moving on to the next step in your adventure. Thank you both for your years of service to our nations. I hope by September 30 your husband has a wonderful job in a wonderful place. I do understand the mixed emotions!

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  5. What a nice tribute to your husband, JoAnne. Congratulations to both of you on finishing this long experience of his service to our country -- and please give him my thanks for his service! I wish both of you all the best in whatever new adventures you choose.

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  6. An ineresting post JoAnne, thank you for sharing. Quite outside my experiences so very interesting to read. I hope your 'new life' will be all and everything that you wish for.

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  7. Hi JoAnn, hey ask your DH if he knew Steve Timmerman at Ft. Bragg. They were there at the same time and he was a paratrouper, but I also know he was enlisted. He was in for nearly 25 years and ended up retiring at Ft. Hood. They liked Kileen to much they stayed there and made a life there. Last fall, Steve and 2 others died in a roll over accident (tire hit something) and he was only 56.
    Thank him for his service. Sharon in CO

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  8. Love this story - I'm not a veteran or a solider or even an army wife but I am one very patriotic American and I just want to thank both of you (yes both) for his service!

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  9. After reading your story I was going to write Just what Jackie said thank you both for your service.
    My sister was a Marine wife.........21 moves in 25 years. Both her sons were born while he was in Vietnam.,he did 4 tours there.
    I am also a very patriotic American and try to thank every soldier I see " thank you for your service" I also makes quilts of valor for our wounded brave soldiers.

    Happy 4th of July, I hope your retirement adventure is wonderful, rewarding and very long!

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  10. Thank you for sharing with us this inside view of military life. I am thankful for husbands such as yours, and families such as yours who make so many sacrifices for our freedom. Congratulations and thanks for your commitment and service.

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  11. Wow! This is a great history of your family's service to our country! Thanks so much for sharing it with us and thank you for being a part of our military. Congratulations to your husband for staying in for 30 years! As well to your family for supporting him as well as our country through your sacrifice. Enjoy this independence day and we look forward to hearing about your next steps. K-

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  12. Our lives are parallel. You described the moves, deployments, safety net....all of it to a T! It is bittersweet to leave but at same time your own wings grow and you finally can live your life's, deciding and making decisions without being told where and how long. Unsure if you plan to live near a base for use of their hospital, commissary etc. We don't and that was really an adjustment since we lived overseas for so long I relied on the base. Also not living near a base changes the way you do healthcare. All a learning curve...I can tell you stories! Anyway, enjoy and congrats! There is a big market for uniforms if he decides to let some go.

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  13. Thanks for sharing this part of your lives with us and thank your husband for his service and you for your support. I look forward to hearing about your next chapter!

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  14. Wonderful to read this account of your military life, JoAnne. I echo the sentiments of all the above comments. Thank you, to your husband, to you, to your daughter, and to the thousands of military families, who sacrifice their own interests, for the sake of our country. God bless all of you.

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  15. Congratulations on the retirement and best wishes to you both to make the adjustment to civilian life. It's not that bad. :) My father, too, enlisted back in the late 60s, thinking he would go somewhere 'exotic' ... and then was assigned to Fort Bragg. Basically a North Carolina version of East Texas, which is where he grew up. I was born at Womack Army Hospital. Thanks to your family and your husband for serving our country all these years!

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  16. Thank you for sharing this story - especially today as we celebrate our freedoms. As the daughter of a career Navy officer, I know the sacrifices made by the entire family. Now's the time for you to enjoy the freedom your husband has spent his career protecting.

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  17. After reading all the above comments, I can only say AMEN. My life has never been touched by the military, but I am so grateful to those who have served our country in order to keep it free. Thank you so much for sharing this. Sometimes we just see the uniform and thank the person for their service for us; but you shared the life of one soldier and the sacrifice your husband, daughter and you have made and made it more personal. It really touched me. Keep blogging and sharing.

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  18. Best wishes to you both as this new journey begins. Your story brought back many memories. My husband and I each were raised in military families. When he got caught up in the post Vietnam RIF (he was a pilot) and we moved into the civilian world it was a physical as well as an emotional transition. We had never been to a civilian doctor or shopped regularly at anything other than the commissary or PX. Somehow we learned the new rules though. One regret is that everytime the new wish list came out for a new post, he always listed Alaska as # 1 - never got it - always ended up in the hot states, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, southern Virginia. That's okay our 5th trip to Alaska is coming up soon - we love it and know it would have been our retirement choice.
    Thank you for the years of dedication and service to our country.

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  19. Wonderful tribute to your husband! Thank you for sharing. Your story and lives are those of honor. Thank you for his service and to your families' journey with him. Happy 4th!

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  20. Your husband is a hero. Thank you both for your service and sacrifice.

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  22. I enjoyed reading about your life in the army. I know it from the side of an army brat. My dad was in for 23 years as well. It was a big transition when he got out and he had trouble making the adjustment to civilian life at first. He eventually settled into a second career as an electrician and has now retired from that. Good luck to the both of you wherever you land!

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  23. Wow, what a story. Thank you both for all your sacrifice.

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  24. Congratulations as you move to the next chapter of your life. Thank you to you and your husband for your long service to our country!

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  25. What an interesting work life your husband has had, and you have seen so much of your country too. It is unfortunate that he has had to serve in times and places of combat, but an honour for which your country (and ours) thanks you. I hope you both enjoy a quieter life in retirement.

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