Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Last Leg home

May 24th, 2007 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Aubrey was her name

The last leg home on this month-long journey was punctuated with slight bumps as we slowly plowed across the tops of the clouds. The sound of Bread played into my headset as I sat at the Radio Operator’s table thinking of this past month. There are many people out there who know my feelings right now. As a single guy back in my early days in the Corps, I lived for the road trip. Always keeping my suitcase packed in the trunk of my car with all the proper gear for a flight that could encompass the cold of Iceland or the warm beaches of Rota, Spain.
Now as a forty-something man, home is truly where the heart is. I married a beautiful woman whose heart far exceeds the bounds of normal love. The past ten years have flown by with a trip every three days to cities all over our great country. It wasn’t until I came back into the Marine Corps and took a trip over to Iraq, seven thousand miles away, that I realized what the most important thing in life is–being home, watching the kids run around, or the gentle hugs of my wife as she walks by.
We all take these trips for our job. Make the sacrifices, miss birthdays or holidays. It’s a lucky thing that my spouse understands this. I grew up with my father taking off on a Mediterranean cruises lasting six months at a time. That was just the way it worked in the Bell household as a kid. He is fortunate to be married to a very strong, independent woman as well who kept the home fires burning while he was gone.
I guess that the heart grows fonder with distance and I’m sure these feelings have been shared by men and women for thousands of years who took to the sea, military life, or sell medical supplies around the world. It’s a common thread amongst people in our profession. The only regret I have is not being able to share these experiences with “Tee,” my wife, on a daily basis. My words can’t express the feelings of joy as you do something you love like flying 250 miles an hour, five hundred feet above the surface of the earth, cresting mountain ridges and coasting back into the valley below. Gliding between giant cumulus clouds as they billow into the sky, boiling forth like some erupting volcano of cotton. Also, the good feeling of the final few feet as the plane settles down on the pavement of the runway with hardly any noticeable contact.
The unbearable moments are when you hear your child’s voice over the phone asking when you’ll be home; watching a family play the park together in some far off city. Those sights and sounds make the journey harder still. That is when I would hang up my wings just to return home that instant. I realize that you only have a few years with them before they move on. One day, as they read my words, I hope they understand what pulls a father away from his home.
We would all give up everything we own, just to be home once again. To all of you out there who share these feelings, do you not agree that the last leg home is always the hardest? The anticipation of what awaits you. It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that this won’t be the last trip in your lifetime. I just wonder if I will ever lose my yearning to take off to the skies and if I do, will I miss it?
Semper Fi,