Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Sailor

I wanted to take a few moments to tell everyone a little about my Sailor. We always hear they are being deployed and that they are working hard, but do we ever really hear what they are actually doing. It takes a lot of sweat and tears to keep an air craft carrier going, and I am proud to say that my husband is a part of that.

My Husband is a 3rd Class Petty Officer, and is part of the Hull Maintenance Department. He just recently finished what is known as "C" School for Welders. He finished in the top 5 of his class, making him a Super Welder. Along with many others in his division he is in charge of welding. What might there be to weld on a ship you might wonder? Well a lot of things, every single day. They will be the ones to get up in the middle of the night because of a break or a leak, and just might be responsible for saving the ship from going down.

This division is also mostly comprises the fire squad, which my husband has been a part of since he joined the Navy. On his last command he was team leader of his fire squad, but he has yet to take his place on his new ship. I have no doubts that he will work his way to the top again.

On top of all of this, he is a magnificent husband, and once we are together again he wants to be a magnificent father. That will come in due time. For now we just have a cat! Thank you all for your kind words. I truly appreciate them. Other than this, I will post pictures as soon as I can. I am without a computer of my own right now (I let Jay take mine on deployment!) so as soon as that happens the pictures will come. I promise.

Casey Nicholson.

Letter from Assemblywoman Wolk

Here's an excerpt from Lois Wolk, Assemblymember eighth district:

"...your book shines light on the homefront experience and what it means to be patriotic. The citizens of our region are fortunate to have someone with your talents and insight among them."

Lois Wolk
May 3,2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home Front: Calm Before the Storm - Ahwatukee Foothills News, May 9, 2007

(click the above title to activate link)
HOME FRONT: Calm before the storm

Commentary by Missy Martin
My brother Mike is going to war. He’ll do his part to provide security for convoys in Iraq by driving an armed Humvee.

I’m trying to muster the same “bring it on” fortitude to cope with his deployment that he and his fellow soldiers first exuded at their boot camp graduation. But soldiers’ families aren’t trained to fight on the home front even though we face enemies too – those of the psyche – things like fear, anxiety and depression. We figure out how to deal as we go.
Before Mike joined the Army he was my neighbor in this placid suburb, where the war was on our TVs, not on our radar screens. For all the war’s ideals and flaws, they were all too remote from our suburban lifestyle to identify with. The only oppression I ever fought was the letters I received from our homeowners association about the trampoline in our backyard.

I never fought for freedom or security for anybody. While our family was once the target of a “lawn job” when some teenager peeled out, leaving behind a 2-inch-deep skid mark, I could never imagine my family as the target of roadside bombs that leave behind 3-foot-deep craters and broken hearts.

My only beef with sand has been that it fills my kids’ sneakers at recess and then spills onto our wood floor when they remove their shoes after school; of course it never seemed relevant to worry about it jamming a weapon during an ambush. Now I need to expand my resolve to cope beyond the trials of my suburb to those Mike will face in a combat zone.

For his pre-deployment leave, Mike packed his vehicle with every possession that would fit in it and drove for two days to my house, where I’ll store everything in the garage while he’s at war. On the day he was due to arrive, my three kids spent the morning making 12 “welcome home” cards and laid them out on his bed. Then they perched themselves in the backyard fort that overlooks the block fence so they could see every car that turned into our neighborhood.

When they finally spotted his shaved head behind the wheel of his gray SUV they bypassed the fort’s ladder and leapt to the ground, where they ripped a trail to the front yard and greeted Mike with literal jumps for joy.

For the rest of the day we sat on the patio and drank beer, barbecued steak and listened to Mike’s favorite songs programmed into his iPod. The kids asked questions. “How will you get there?” and “Are you scared?” Mike used the kids’ toy machine gun to demonstrate how soldiers are trained to clear rooms. The kids played the bad guys; lying in wait with their own plastic pistols cocked, but Mike’s technique prevailed every time. I felt glad.
The weather was perfect, the grass was green and lush, blooming plants splashed bright colors throughout the yard. Birds were chirping and we all could smell the orange blossoms.

We sat relaxed, enjoying ourselves, laughing and watching airplanes make contrails in the cloudless sky long into the night when a one bisected the moon. My husband brought out the telescope.

I’ve etched this day in my mind and hope in my darkest moments of worry it will supercede any visions of Mike in a violent combat zone. Soon he will be on a plane en route to a war defined by conflicting arguments whose validity in terms of our national interest, our soldiers’ interests and my personal values often leave me confused about my own position on the war.

But there’s one thing I know for certain: when Mike arrives “over there” he’ll be ordered to write a so-called “If you’re reading this” letter, a note every soldier writes and families receive only if their soldier is killed. All of the political chatter will be muted by the single-minded chorus of my family’s prayers to never receive that letter, and to see Mike come home again to spend another day drinking beer on the patio beside lush green grass, while the birds chirp and airplanes make contrails in the peaceful blue sky.

--Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, Michael Dunn, is a graduate of Arizona State University and a U.S. Army Specialist about to be deployed to the Middle East.