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 2003, the true story of our young military marriage and the friends we made in the beginning of the War on Terrorism.*****
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.
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??”
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.
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.
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, check back next Monday! A new article appears each Monday morning on storiesofourboys.com.*********
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