Category Archives: ♦♦Military Experiences♦♦

Comings and Goings

We start packing out in 12 days; that’s less than 2 weeks.  Yesterday we loaded up our Sequoia because my husband needed to go back down to Florida to do the final walk-through inspection on our new house.  Water and electricity should be up and running before the weekend is over.  He’s also put in an application for a job, so he wanted to be there in person to check on that.  There are things the moving company will not pack and things we don’t want them to pack – too many broken or missing items in previous moves – so he took some of that down with him. 

So, another week alone with the kids.  They are not out of school til next Thursday, so I still have my days to myself to get ready for the move.  I’m also trying to keep a regular routine going with working out, blogging, etc., but I know that some of that will have to be put on a back burner for a couple of weeks while we are packing, cleaning, travelling, and unpacking.

The kids keep going back and forth on their feelings about moving.  In general, they are excited.  We are going to be closer to lots of family.  We aren’t going to move again (well, except down the street when our final house is built).  We’ll be in Florida, where they were all 3 born and my husband and I were raised.  They can go watch the UF Gators sports teams live just about anytime they want to. 

Last night, however, our oldest son started to back-track and say he isn’t looking forward to the move as much.  I think some of that has to do with his girl friend of a year and a half.  She is the first person he’s ever gone out with, and they’ve had each other’s friendship for the past 2 school years.  I can understand his feelings.  Our daughter and youngest son have made a few good friends but no best friends.  They are used to leaving friends behind and stay in touch with several through e-mail and Facebook now.  As with all of our moves, we try to make it as easy a transition as we can.  I know as they are getting older, that it is getting harder, though.  I am glad that this will be our last military move.  We really have been lucky to have been stationed in so many great places.  The things we’ve seen and experienced most people wish for.  But now it’s our time to pass the torch.  My husband officially retired Monday morning at 12:01 am.  We just happened to be up watching the women’s college softball world series, so I was able to congratulate him and give him a little retirement gift. 

I wasn’t there when he joined the military 27 years ago yesterday.  He served in the Army Reserves for 7 1/2 years during high school and college.  After graduating, he decided he wanted to fly for the military, and the Navy recruited him.  Lucky for me, the Army didn’t have any slots for commissioned aviator officers at the time, and he went to Pensacola for Navy flight school.  We met about a month after he arrived, and here we are today, 19 years later, with 3 wonderful children.  I am so proud of my husband;  of his 44 years, 27 1/2 have been serving his country.  He was also an Army brat his first 12, so most of his life all he’s known is the military.  Here’s to his (and our family’s) smooth adjustment to civilian life – or maybe I should be saying, “Watch out everyone; here we come!”

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Orders From Guam

Continued from my previous post Welcome to Guam:  2002 (part 13).

“9/20/04: PARIS  !  !  !  YAHOO  !  !  !  (from G8r)”

” 9/20/04  (e-mail sent to G8r less than an hour prior from the person who coordinated his next orders):  RE:  French Foreign Service College  G8r, You are a “GO” for French War College February 2006.  DLI (Defense Language Institute – the military’s foreign language school in Monterey, CA) commences June/July 2005.  Need to absolutely confirm with you that these dates work with your situation/command?  Please confirm.  Thanks…Helo Shore Detailer”

These were the last copies of e-mails that I have in our notebook of Guam memories.  My husband returned from Iraq in January 2005, and we all left Guam in May to begin yet another adventure…on the other side of the globe.

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Det from Guam Makes Sea Rescue

Continued from my earlier post Welcome to Guam:  2002 (part 8).  My husband spent a lot of our almost 3 years in Guam deployed.  A lot of what he did was not in the news, but here’s one time when it was international news. 

“6/25/03:  SR, Yesterday we became famous.  I am incredibly happy for the det.  This was the biggest at-sea rescue in the history of HC-5 (his squadron at the time).  I have attached the article.  Love, G8r.

Coalition Saves 27 Mariners in Arabian Sea

Bahrain — Twenty-seven crew members of a sinking Egytian-flagged cargo vessel were saved approximately 350 miles off the coast of Oman June 24 by the U.S. and British navies.  The 24-year-old general cargo ship, Green Glory, reportedly struggled with an engine fire at approximately 5 p.m. the evening of June 23.  Heavy seas in the area caused Green Glory to take on water, and a “mayday” call went out at approximately 5:54 p.m.  The Royal Navy’s auxiliary ship, RFA Sir Tristram, was the closest coalition ship to the stricken vessel and provided assistance throughout the night.  Although Green Glory was able to restart its engines in the middle of the night, the vessel was still dead-in-the-water and continued to flounder.  The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, headquartered here, directed USNS Concord (the ship my husband was on at the time), a U.S. supply ship, and a P-3 Orion maritime reconnaissance patrol aircraft to provide additional assistance in the rescue effort.  By 9 a.m. June 24, an MH-60 utility helicopter (the helicopter my husband flies; it’s like an Army Blackhawk) from Concord deployed two rescuers aboard Green Glory to assist in abandon ship efforts, and help deploy their life boats.  Within an hour, the helicopter began to pluck sailors from the Green Glory’s lifeboats and bring them aboard the RFA Sir Tristram, where they were medically evaluated, fed and clothed.  All of Green Glory’s 27 crewmen were airlifted to the RFA Sir Tristram by approximately 2 p.m.  Green Glory’s decks were awash, and the vessel was taking heavy rolls, as the last of the crew members were rescued.”

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Letters from the Middle East to Florida and Guam

Continued from my earlier post Welcome Home:  Guam 2002 (part 5).  More e-mails from my husband to home while deployed.

“5/11/03:  Hello home, On Wednesday I complete my circumnavigation of the Earth.  It is kind of neat to be able to say that, but I think I would rather be home.  Today I received an e-mail from the detailer discussing options for my next tour.  I want to come home to Florida, but some of these options are fantastic.  War College in Paris, Sidney, Toronto, England, or Tokyo.  My DLI scores are such that I can pick where to go.  It is just a matter of whether my timing will work out or not.  After that tour I would have one more before I retire. ~G8r”

“6/10/03:  I enjoyed talking with you from Bahrain.  It wasn’t the greatest port, but I started to enjoy it after a while.  Just like every other place I have traveled, the people are extremely friendly if you know a few words of the language, and the Arabs are just like everybody else.  I researched a little bit about the culture and have studied some of the language and it has paid off.  I started talking to this cab driver there.  He wore a thobe (yes, spelled correctly – long white shirt/dress) and the Arab headgear.  He was just making small talk about where to take us in the cab when I read the prayer card he had hanging from his rear view mirror.  It turns out that I had just reviewed a chapter which discussed that exact prayer and being able to read it in Arabic impressed him.  From there he started to talk about the shiites (he pronounced it ‘Shia’ without the T) and the Sunnis.  He told us about which mosques to go to and who to talk to…who liked Americans and who didn’t.  It was amazing (although we were told not to get into any political or religious discussions with ANYBODY).  He even played some Islamic prayer music for us which was really cool.  We are now back at sea and I am happy to be flying again.  The instructor experience is paying off with some of the younger pilots.  I find that many of the same techniques work when trying to show these guys how to fly VERTREP.  We are trying to set up to fly a mission into one of the local countries where we fly people (locals) into the mountains and drop them off to fix the lights on towers.  If we can make it happen we should get some spectacular flying.  The locals will put us up in a hotel, and when we aren’t working we can check out the town. ~G8r”

My husband (G8r) is a Naval helicopter pilot.  During this cruise, he was in charge of 2 helicopters and a group of officer pilots and enlisted personnel attached to a ship that travelled to the Middle East.   Their helicopter’s mission is to deliver supplies, food, people, etc. (VERTREP = Vertical Replenishment).  When he speaks of “the instructor experience,” he was a helicopter instructor 2 tours before this.  On these cruises, the pilots continue to learn the “”real life” aspects of what they learn in flight training and he, as the Officer In Charge, is their teacher.

One last one…

“6/12/03:  I remember working in Florida during the summer.  Until now, I thought that those termperatures and conditions were amazingly hot and humid.  Don’t get me wrong, they were, but…it is 9:41 a.m. here as we pull into Fujarah, United Arab Emirites.  The temperature is 98 deg. and the humidity is 89%.  I just checked the internet to get this information.  I would send some pictures, but he haze is amazingly thick.  Maybe I will just take a picture of the haze so you can see it.  Unfortunately, we can’t leave the pier here.  What they do is make my guys stand Entry Control Point Duty to make them stay near the pier.  My guys don’t know anything about security duty (it wasn’t their job).  What they have here is called beer on the pier.  You walk off the boat, drink a beer, and get back on the boat.  I think I would rather pour the beer on my head to cool off.  What a great way to see the world.  I think we should resupply in a place where the port is a little more friendly.  I am allowed to discuss the port we are in once we pull in, so this is not considered ‘privileged’ information.  I understand SR and the kids may be on a plane right now going back to the States.  I hope they have a good trip.  I am sure that they are going to enjoy seeing you guys. ~G8r”

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Life on the Ship (while stationed in Guam)

Continued from my earlier post Welcome Home:  Guam 2002 (part 4).  I liked this e-mail my husband sent to his parents.  His feet hurt so badly sometimes that he pays our children to rub them.

“2/19/03:  Hello Home,  We just pulled out of port and I had a wonderful time.  I always seem to try to immerse myself in the local culture a little more than the people that I am with want to, but, hey, you only live once.  I learned that Chinese is difficult but still…making the attempt is worth it every time.

I was waiting for three of the guys on my detachment to get haircuts when I saw a place next door to get a foot rub.  They are everywhere here, and I had the time, so I gave it a try.  These three Chinese women came out and proceeded to yatter away in Mandarin.  I gave it a shot, and they all went crazy.  It turned out that they are all trying to learn English, so we were a perfect match.  This one lady proceeded to put the most excruciating hurting on my feet that I have ever felt (much less paid for), and the other two practiced their English.  It was a blast.  Halfway through the conversation I accidentally said, ‘Hai’ for yes, and the lady asked me if I spoke Japanese (in Japanese).  It was so cool; we blundered our way through one of the greatest conversations I have ever had – in three languages.  Just about the time it was over, my three pilots came in to get me.  By now they probably think I am nuts, but it doesn’t matter because I take care of them, and they think I am smart (got ’em fooled).  A little while later I bought this really neat Chinese mandolin.  I will learn what it is really called later.  It sounds kind of like a banjo with an oriental twang.  Zai Jian, G8r”

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Deploying From Guam

Continued from my earlier post Welcome Home:  Guam 2002 (part 3).  My mil helped us a lot when we lived overseas with things back in the States.  One thing was the houses that we own and rent out in Florida. 

“4/5/03:  I told the mason that the house belonged to you all and that I was taking care of the repairs because G8r was in the Navy and stationed in Guam.  When I called to get an address to mail the check to, he told me just to send $50 instead of the original $75 because he was a veteran and it was the least he could do for someone serving.  ~Milly”

“4/15/06:  You can tell him that I am going to the Persian Gulf in a few weeks.  It looks like I will be gone for 6 months.  It is not what I had hoped for when I came here.  I had hoped for a whole bunch of 1 to 2 month out and ins.  Don’t worry about me being anywhere near the hostilities.  You saw Mr. Roberts.  We just move supplies although we might get to fly into Kuwait.  The kids are excited about coming home to visit this summer. ~G8r”

We have been blessed with so much kindness, especially when others find out that my husband is in the military.  I am so proud of him and for the sacrifices he and others like him have made for our country.  I am also very thankful that his time is almost up and that he can spend more time with his family now.

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Journey Around the World

When I started this blog 8 months ago it was the first day of school for my kids.  At the time I wished I had started blogging sooner.  You see, our family has been travelling around the world for the past 17 years.  I met my husband 19 years ago this month.  He was on his first liberty from Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida.  I was working my way through college at the time.  Twenty months later, we were married and he was wrapping up his flight training there. 

Since then we have lived on each coast of the US and on 3 different continents and have travelled to over 20 countries.  In 1 month, he retires from the Navy after serving 7 1/2 years in the Army Reserves and 19+ in the Navy.  My kids know nothing else, and we are excited and nervous at the same time to leave the military life.  We are moving to a city with a population of just over 500.  A lot of my husband’s family lives there.  He moved back to the town when he was 12 (the same age as our youngest son).  His father was in the Army as well, so he has been connected to the military most of his life.  We have visited there many times for holidays and summer vacations, so the kids and I have gotten to know the area pretty well.

I have enjoyed our journeys around our world.  Tomorrow I will continue my reminiscing by sharing our experiences in Guam.

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