Military stories from past to present, both wars.

"I’ll be home for Christmas"

December 23rd, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

I will be on the road for Christmas this year. It’s not a new thing; if I’m not deployed then I’m flying for my company, and taking folks to where their love light gleans. This is explained to my children as follows; “Santa comes to visit all the houses of Airline pilots early because he knows that they will be gone helping Santa out.”
Being gone is just a fact of my life, so I make the best out of it. I’m the junior guy on the Super 80 and for the past eight years have flown all major holidays, birthdays, you name it, and nothing is off limits. I did have a trip to Memphis one Christmas morning that I put on my Santa’s hat, Elvis wig and glasses and sang Blue Christmas to all the passengers. This year will be just a bit different and barring any weather delays, this will be how I spend my Christmas on the road 2006.

Four a.m., Christmas Eve, the alarm goes off. I get up, shower and dress as quietly as I can so not to wake my wife. Let the puppy out; eat my oatmeal, kiss the girls goodbye and slip out of the house at 0435 onto the empty highway to DFW airport. Go through TSA’s finest, sign-in and then preflight my plane. All this before we depart the Airport at 0640 for our first leg to Jacksonville Florida. The Co-pilot (me) will greet all the passengers with a Santa’s hat on, and small candy canes tucked in a large red stocking hanging with care on the bulkhead of the cockpit.

My day will end in Dayton Ohio at 1630 (four thirty local) Christmas Eve where I will have dinner with an old Marine buddy named Don. He is a geo bachelor there and as it turns out, can’t make it home due to his business. It’s the end of a long day as I settle into the Holiday Inn around 8:30pm, my home away from home, and call my wife to see how her day went.

Christmas day, the alarm goes off at 0500 (east coast time, four a.m., my body clock) shower, pack up the suitcase, and meet the crew in the lobby for our trip to the airport. Go through TSA, preflight the plane, take off and watch the sunrise… again. This time we fly back to DFW, sit for two hours, and then take off to San Antonio, arriving by noon.

Today is going to be a bit different though. Last year, I spent Christmas with Marines in Iraq, my other family. This year I will spend it with Marines again only at Brooks Army Hospital burn unit. A friend there is the Officer in Charge of our Marines that return from Iraq, badly burned from IED’s. I asked Col “O.B.” if I could spend Christmas day with the young Marines there in my dress blues and asked what I could bring them. He said, “If you get some gift cards from Wal-Mart, that would be great, then the parents could go pick something up for them, since they would have an idea of what they could use.” I went to the Officers of my Squadron first and passed the hat. Then I contacted family and friends and told them of my mission on Christmas day. The checks flowed in. I’m proud to say that $1,540.00 is going to them this year, and all because the spirit of giving to others still exists.

I feel strongly about this visit because, but by the grace of God, walk I. It could be me, or one of my friends, going through the painful recovery that these brave men are facing. Later that day, after I get back to my hotel room, I will write about the visit.

Folks, this is what my Holiday will be like this year and although I’d love to be at home, I have to look at the bright side and say, at least no one is shooting at me, so I have that going for me. I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and that the weather allows everyone to get home safe and sound. If you are walking through DFW and hear, “I’ll be home for Christmas or Blue Christmas, look to see if it’s me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank some folks as well. Friends at VMGR 234, Kurt W, John and Mary B, Ron and Mary H, Jack F, Mike H, MAG-41 Officers, Dan and Cynthia B, Guss R, John “Cuz” W, and Susanna S from Newsweek. Thanks to all of you for your support on this last minute, crazy idea. Merry Christmas all!!!
Semper Fi,

P.S. Go wish Major Pain a Happy Birthday, today is the big one for him…
P.S.S. go check out Maj P and I are there in the Iraqi section.