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The Old Broad’s Perspective – Deployment

June 4, 2009

It has been said that being married for many years means deployments and post deployments are easier. Don’t ask me who started that fallacy – it’s NOT true. Different, maybe; easier, I don’t think so.

So – some background first. My husband’s family has been in what we call the “family business” of the military for generations. The two generations before him went Navy… so he went Army. Chief and I have been married for over 30 years.  He was enlisted Active duty, and we moved 3 times in the next 2 years, ending up twice in Germany. With what he did, and with the very strange duty hours he worked (6 on, 2 off, Days/Swings/Mids) life was interesting, but no deployments, other than a couple of short TDYs

We got out a few years later and he went on a contract job remote assignment for two years, I stayed near family and went to school/worked/brought up a 7 year old son, while he lived on a teeeeeny island (which was also a seal rookery) in the Bering Sea! I suppose that was a deployment, although no one was actually shooting at him and he came back with only a deep seated hatred of seals!

We moved to the Midwest, he joined the Reserves and we thought we were settled. Ha! After 9/11, and the dot com bubble burst – he started doing more and more AGR. The fact that he had National Guard on his resume – well we can’t prove that’s why he lost his job… but it sure was interesting!  That’s when the NG pay SNAFUS hit too (try going 7 weeks with NO pay). Our son went Army as well, first Guard, then Active (I told you it was the family business!)

Then the first deployment loomed, Chief was heading to Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission, our son left for Germany and was greeted at his new assignment with the news that 1st AD was heading downrange to Iraq. Yeah – great, a Twofer. This was in the days that mail to Iraq took weeks – we were sending baby wipes by the tonne, and son was begging me to get him some boots that fit and others were sending body armor care packages. I spent a lot of time in the post office, hoping I had the customs forms straight, packages to Bosnia – packages to Baghdad… and spending a helluva lot of money on postage!

After the peacekeeping mission came Warrant schools, more schools, and 6 month TDYs. After a while, we realized that AGR was just not working – let’s go Active Army. The request went in, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere – and the reason became crystal clear. Chief called from England (his latest TDY) and told me he was coming home – and 8 days later going to Mississippi for trainup – before heading downrange. Eight days – it went by in a whirlwind of FRG meetings, packing lists and trunks strewn from one end of the house to the other, and watching Katrina beat the hell out of Louisiana and skirt Camp Shelby MS. Oh and at the same time, the whole Battalion/Brigade was being reorganized, the phone numbers for the unit were changed, and no one knew diddly! Our unit was split up between various companies, and we tried to figure out FRGs, rear det phone numbers etc.

When he left in the advance party, going to Shelby and hoping that FEMA had left them some room to move into – I went home and tried to put the house back together and figure out how the hell I was going to do this. By this time, the son was married and living in another state, with a baby on the way! I may have been the “old broad” in our group of wives and parents of these Guardsmen – but just because I could “speak army”, didn’t make this mess any easier for me to navigate!

I kept hearing – at least he’s in the States. Yeah, ok. He’s in CONUS – but NO visiting allowed ( we won’t mention the HQ company senior ranks who “forgot” to tell anyone else that families were allowed to come down for Thanksgiving and the anger that the rest of us felt seeing the pictures of their families eating turkey dinner with them!) Christmas that year – they were allowed home for 2 weeks. Our granddaughter arrived early – in January and I sent as many pictures as I could from my trip out to Colorado.

March arrived – we were allowed 6 days but not to go out of a certain radius. 6 days after 6 months apart. With the baby too little to travel, and no way for us to get there, we spent those days on a driving trip along the Mississippi. After a ceremony in the driving rain, we spent our last night together and I flew back – and he flew out just 2 days later. – advance party again!

Tomorrow: deployment.

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