Deployment Prep: Next Week for Sure We’ll Be Flying to Kuwait


Deployment Prep: Next Week for Sure We'll Be Flying to Kuwait

*****This post is the 10th in the series The Real Army Wives of 2003the true story of our young military marriage and the friends we made in the beginning of the War on Terrorism.*****

The old BDUs were worn right up until they deployed. Notice the boxes in the background. There was so much going on.

Alan reported to work. We were so nervous and excited to begin his military career. Everything up to this point was training; now it was time for the real action to begin.

He found his unit in a fury of battle preparing. Much of the gear and vehicles needed for combat were already loaded up on trains and shipped to the docks, and the war was yet to begin.

The 4th Infantry Division was drawing up plans to enter Iraq from Turkey, but of course, all of that was thwarted once Turkey denied us access.

Alan was a field artillery officer, assigned the role of Fire Support Officer. That meant that he would actually be invading Iraq with an infantry unit, the 1-22 Infantry.

And so it was that we felt as though we almost belonged to two units. We met two battalion commanders and their wives and attended Hail and Farewell parties for both groups. Only in the wake of war, no one is allowed to “farewell”. It’s really just a “hail” party. Ha! In more than once sense of the word Hail.

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Meanwhile, life at home went on.

Many days they would let the men off work early because with deployment looming over our heads, no one knew when we would all be together again. They wanted to give us all as much family time as possible. Of course, some men would not be returning from the war.

The burning question everywhere you went was, “When are they leaving??”

Bags were everywhere that last month as he tried to stuff a year’s worth of gear into 4 bags, with no idea of how long he’d be gone.

I remember meeting wives my very first Sunday at church, and they very much had a sense of, “The not knowing is killing us. Are they leaving tomorrow? Or will it be another month? How many times do we have to feel like this is it? Just go already!”

If this waiting for orders scenario were to happen to me now, I might feel the same as my friends did. But since Alan and I were finally getting a chance to be together after months of separation, I didn’t let the not knowing bother me. I was thankful for each day we were given.

In my February 11th, 2003, journal entry I wrote:

“Right now it looks like Alan will be leaving next week–which is good news because we thought he would be leaving this week.

 

We really like it here. We love our neighborhood and our new church family.  I actually feel comfortable calling on Katie, Ashley, or Theresa.”

Family & Church saved the day.

Katie is Alan’s distant cousin, by marriage, but she lived right there in Killeen. When we moved to town, Katie and her husband Eli had us over for dinner right away. Eli was a Captain in the 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Cav was not leaving as soon as the 4th Infantry. In fact, no one knew when they would get orders either.

Eli and Katie had a sweet and adorable baby boy named Gavin. I actually got to know Katie and Gavin quite well that year. Gavin was excellent baby-handling practice for me. I knew precious little about taking care of babies.

my littlest buddy

Katie and Eli made us feel comfortable and explained the lay of the land to us our very first week in Texas.

Finding a Supportive Church Family

Ashley  and Theresa, also mentioned in my above journal entry, were friends that we made in Sunday school at First Baptist Church, Killeen. Alan and I stumbled upon this marvelous young adult Sunday school class our second or third Sunday in town.

We loved the way Jerry and Wanda led this small group of young adults each week in discussions of the Bible and applying it to real life. Jerry and Wanda were in their 60s, I think, and that made them excellent second parents away from home. I wonder if Jerry and Wanda ever had any idea how much they meant to every couple in their class. We all adored them.

It was a close group. Right away, Ashley and her husband Jonathan, and Theresa and her husband Chris, as well as others, took us under their wings and invited us to sit with them in church and had us over to their homes.

Jonathan was also preparing to deploy with the 4th ID, but Chris was in the 1st Cav with Eli, so Chris belonged to the group of guys wishing they were going too. They were all young military officers, yet they had more experience than we did.

In this time of looming hardship, people just seemed to know the right thing to do, especially military folks.

That's the special thing about military communities. We know too well how much we need each other.Click To Tweet

Extended families are something you create for yourself because mom and dad are usually hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. The Fort Hood community welcomed us with open arms. There was not time for sadness. We had too much excitement going on.

Even Alan’s military unit, the 4-42 Field Artillery, provided comfort and guidance. There were Family Support meetings about what to expect during the deployment. The officers’ and senior NCO wives even had coffees, which are casual dinner socials, lead by the battalion commander’s wife.

We were in this flurry of meeting new people, which eased the pain of the upcoming war, somewhat. Most of the time Alan was excited, and I was busy but also living in dread.

“Hurry up and wait” was the theme of the times.

This was at some sort of 4th ID ceremony for sending off the troops.

These meetings we had about deployment would re-awaken my gloom, as it reminded me that this was truly happening, like it or not. I wrote about it in my journal:

“Feb. 12, 2003

We went to a meeting tonight about preparing for deployment. Alan will be gone within a week, and I’ll him miss him MORE than ever!! I’m okay–I know God will take care of us–but I’m not excited about living by myself AT ALL. 

And I look at Alan’s sweet, lovely face & it just makes me want to cry. I love him so much. He is so wonderful. 

My neighbor Elsie stopped by today, and I’m so glad she did. She’s a real sweet girl. She’s very talkative & outgoing which is my preferred choice (because I’m not)! I’m so thankful the Lord’s given me a friend right across the street. 🙂 Thank you, Lord!

Alan’s parents are coming next weekend. My family will be coming soon after that, & Jennings is coming the first half of Spring Break.”

A war-time deployment was something none of us had experienced. No one knew what to expect. Would our parents actually get to see Alan when they came, or would they be there to see him fly out? Or would he already be gone?

 

 

********For the next chapter in this series, click here: Shock and Awe!

A new article appears each Monday morning on storiesofourboys.com.*********

 

Want to read the chapters that you have missed?

Click here for a chapter list of the series.

 


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20 comments

  • Nonna

    April, this is really bringing back all the memories. One I really remember is that terribly upsetting…sad…scary…fear of the unknown…that those bags lined up in the hall, ready to go at a moment’s notice, made us feel every time we looked at them.

    • I was so young and clueless, and I’m thankful for that. I firmly believed he would return without a scratch on him. Thankfully, that happened, but it amazes me how I took that for granted. As a mom, I think that part of it was a thousand times harder for you than for me. You handled it well.

  • Nonna

    We were scared but terribly proud of Alan and his new wife. An all volunteer military says so much for those young men and women who serve as well as their supportive families.

  • I am enjoying reading your stories. There is something uniquely special about military community. My husband was a flight engineer on the P3-C Orion in the Navy during Desert Storm. We were blessed to be stationed at Moffett Field, which was close to where we grew up and our family. When my husband decided to go in the Reserves and pursue his aviation career as a civilian, all our friends were preparing for shore duty. I was completely unprepared, as one by one they all left for assignments in different places. Thankfully, through the years we have all reconnected through social media.

  • McMom

    “Young and clueless” would definitely be a blessing in that situation. The not knowing when – how HORRIBLE! And having to step over those bags multiple times a day – a constant reminder of the upcoming doom. Of course, I suppose they may have also acted as a remember to cherish every moment. Sounds like you let them be the latter. What an admirable attitude. Glass half full! I can hardly wait for the next Army Wives post!!!

    • Yes! Young and clueless was the best way to be. We were pretty dramatic about this deployment, but looking back I can totally see why. So glad you’re following along even though you basically already know this story. Ha!

  • I hope you still talk to Katie, Eli and Gavin!
    This makes me nervous! I remember being newly married and clinging to Cassidy. Well hey, he’s going away for four nights this week and I’m nervous!
    Tamara recently posted…Grilled Cheesy BBQ Chicken TacosMy Profile

    • You may be happy to know that I tagged Katie on Facebook when I wrote this, and I consulted with her before I made up her name on here. Gavin can now drive… Now when Alan goes away for 4 nights straight, I still get nervous!

  • Interesting to read about a lifestyle I know nothing about. There is no way I could be a military wife – takes a special sort of woman I think
    Kate recently posted…Sunday photoMy Profile

  • Daddy-O

    Well, Nonna and I were “middle-aged and clueless”. Thanks for keeping us up to date during his deployment, it meant so very much!

  • I’m always curious about deployment prep. I was addicted to The Real Army Wives, that was a great show. Wow, this post is touching, I can not imagine what being an army wife truly entails. Thank you for sharing so much with us.
    Mary recently posted…Challenge MondayMy Profile

  • Hi April, I don’t know how you did it and still do! My two cousins both served in Iraq, one of them twice and it was not nice knowing they were out there. I’m not sure how I’d cope if my other half were over there (if he were in the military). It sounds as if you had plenty of support, which must be a great help. I bet it’s something you never get used to though.

    xx
    Debbie Roberts recently posted…Monday Morning Blog Club 31/07/2017My Profile