Even though my friend Mike and his wife Amanda just PCS’d to Maryland about 30 min from our home in DC, we all decided to meet up here in Cincinnati for brunch! Not only is Mike an Air Force public affairs NCO, he is also a Cincy native.
We ate at a local chili place in the area Mike grew up. He knew the menu by heart.
Exactly seven years ago today,I stood with many others at Arlington National Cemetery to honor Maj. Troy Gilbert after his F-16 crashed in Iraq while he was defending soldiers on the ground who were under attack.Today, on the anniversary of his burial, I stood once again at Arlington National Cemetery with many others to honor and welcome a part of him home again.The circumstances of Troy’s death in November 2006 are pretty dramatic. He was providing surveillance and reconnaissance for ground forces north of Baghdad when a coalition helicopter went down. As American forces were securing the helicopter and the people inside it, insurgents attacked them. Troy flew in, strafing the insurgents, and flying less than 200 feet from the ground. Continue reading →
Which, of course, means November is over, as is my National Novel Writing Month challenge to write a 50,000-word novel. The good news is that I accomplished that goal, and the novel isn’t even done yet. I’ll keep writing and working on it, because it’s a great story, if I do say so myself, and I like where it’s going.
But more on that later.
In other news, we had a pretty busy month — a birthday, some traveling, lots of eating great food — and I’ll be using the next week or so playing catch-up and sharing some of the highlights.
In the meantime, I’m sharing a video that the U.S. Air Force Band posted overnight. They performed a flash-mob concert here in downtown Washington DC, at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Funny enough, Ashley and I ate a late lunch there, hours after this all happened. I’m sad we missed it.
But fortunately, it was beautifully captured in this video for all of us to enjoy as a kickstart to the holidays.
Ever since my deployment in 2007, I’ve been able to keep in touch with my team: JV, JB, and JZ.
Unlike the experiences of my grandfathers and uncles who served in previous conflicts, I didn’t just go home and never see my fellow Airmen again.
Through social media, the grapevine, and in-person reunions, I’ve actually been able to keep track of retirements, career changes, families, and such.
Out of all my connections — military and professional colleagues, friends, and family — there is a special place in my heart for these three men.
For six months (if you include the time I spent training with them, too), I worked, lived, traveled, laughed, annoyed (I admit it), cared, and thankfully, survived with those guys. In the entire span of my lifetime, those months are just a small chunk of my life experience, right?
But whoa, was it extraordinary.
Because we actually worked together at the Pentagon for a few more years upon our return home, and because we live in the same region and invite each other to family barbecues and birthday parties, I actually get to see JV quite a bit.
That was an awesome surprise for me, and I actually had Martin drive up with the kids so we could all sit and talk and catch up.
When I saw JZ, and got the scoop on how well he and his family were doing, and how his career was doing, there was such an unexpected sense of relief there for me. It’s one thing to see updates on social media or through the grapevine, or get emails every now and then.
It’s another to actually put eyes on your battle buddies, and see that they are well.
Which leads me to JB.
He’s the one dude from my team that I haven’t been able to see again in person.
The last time I saw him and his bald head was when they ran out of that kitchen (which was set up as the medical clinic) with him on the stretcher, out to the helicopter waiting to take him to Baghdad after his legs got shredded from the mortar blast.
He spent that summer in Washington DC at Walter Reed in recovery. Martin even got to visit with him.
But he was released and flown home just days before JV and I returned to the United States.
And we haven’t been in the same place ever since.
This evening, I’m on my way to put a status check on him as he retires from the Air Force.
It will be good to see him.
I did not know it was International Talk Like A Pirate day when I picked my nautical-inspired outfit this morning, ahoy! But thar you have it.
Thanks to Ashley the Intern for takin’ t’ picture.
If it were my child, it would be going through puberty now. But I feel like blog years are sort of like dog years in that things grow and change rapidly, so in Internet/social media/technology years, my blog is really almost 200 years old.
I’m pretty proud of my archive over there.
For fun, I’m sharing with you some photos that were taken around the time I first started blogging/recording our history in 2000/2001, as well as the podcast Martin and I created a few years ago about that year.
You’ll see skinny Martin. Such a hunk.
Oh, and in recognition of my blog going through puberty (sort of), I’m also including one of the most delightful things I’ve seen on the Internet yet.
Enjoy. And happy belated blog birthday!
****************** On another note, some habits die hard.
It’s gray and dreary today, and as I wrangled the kids out of the house this morning, I called over my shoulder, asking Martin to grab me an umbrella I could take to work with me.When I saw which one he brought me, I blurted out, “Oh, no! I can’t use that one!”
And he said, “Julie. It’s fine. It’s pink. And you are not in the military or in uniform anymore.”
Amelia the Minivan is in the shop and Martin took the car to Andrews. We ran out of milk, so we grabbed the bikes and headed to the store. Which, I realized, is uphill the whole way. And it is a freakin’ sauna outside. But there was a sale on Cheez-it’s and Gatorade, so Mom’s heat exhaustion was totally worth it.
There’s a certain sense of satisfaction I feel as I listen to Martin try to log into the Air Force website responsible for his travel orders and such. It’s the password requirement. Hearing him curse in two languages … seeing him throw his fists in the air … “Why the hell do they need 15 characters? WCKR is NOT a word! Why is it saying it’s a word? It’s NOT A WORD!!”
I know now: it wasn’t me. No. It was never me.
PS – After about 15 minutes of entertainment, I finally went in there and showed him the trick. Sure, I could have let him suffer for about nine years, as I did before learning it, but I *do* have to live with him.
In the midst of all the excitement with Jaz last week, I didn’t get to share the good news.
He officially finished his military training last Wednesday and left technical school as a certified air transportation specialist* for the US Air Force Reserve.
I took off from work that day and drove down to Ft. Lee to attend the ceremony. A few other family members were there as well, and we all got to watch as our Airmen were given their certificates and words of encouragement from class leadership.
And I even got to step up and take the grip-and-grin photos for everyone.
After the ceremony, we headed over to the dorm so Martin could collect all his belongings, and within an hour, we were on the road again, heading home.
Martin is no longer considered a “pipeline” Airman. He’s done with his initial training.
Starting next month, he’ll be putting on the uniform at least one weekend a month, two weeks a year, and doing his work at nearby Andrews Air Force Base. Of course, there may be some travel to other locations here and there, some time apart, some more training down the road.
But now? He’s back to be being a full-time stay-at-home dad.
He’ll be posting soon about his tech school experience, and of course, we’ll be sharing as we follow this new path for all of us, especially as he re-integrates with the household again.
It probably goes without saying that we are so proud of him.
* Here’s an Air Force video showing you what air transportation specialists — or “Port Dawgs” — do in the Air Force/Air Force Reserve.
The one I meant to write and publish earlier, after Martin’s graduation from Basic Military Training before life and all its distractions got in the way.
As you know, Martin is attending his technical school for his job in the Air Force Reserve right now, but this post is specficially about my tech school experience, when I went through it back in the spring of 2000.
Martin got to reunite with the whole family this past weekend.
Ever since graduating from Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Martin’s been attending technical school at Fort Lee in Virginia. For the longest time, I thought this part of his training was going to continue in Lackland, as mentioned in his orders. While it is true that the training group is based in Texas, Martin’s school is part of a joint training facility located on an Army base, just like my own tech school experience.
You can imagine how thrilled we all were when we realized that Fort Lee is only two hours away from us in Northern Virginia.
Regardless of his location, Martin’s considered a “pipeline Airman” right now. That’s a term given to brand new Airman who make their way through the “pipeline” — BMT and tech school — before joining the real Air Force. Continue reading →