Last night my husband had a night flight, and the seas have recently been very rough. Landing a F-18 on the deck of a ship that is pitching more then 20ft in either direction is dangerous, especially at night. I try very hard not to fret too much – I know that he is a seasoned pilot and that he’s done this before – but I fret nonetheless.
Normally I hear from him within a few hours after his flight, but last night I heard nothing. I emailed him a few times between 9p and 1:30a, but I still heard nothing. By that time, I didn’t want to wake any friends with texts asking if they had heard from their husbands in the last few hours. I tried distracting myself with sewing and movies (and who doesn’t love watching “Legends of the Fall” under ANY circumstances?!), which worked until the movie was over and I got tired of sewing. At 2:30a, I gave up my vigil and fell asleep.
My husband reminds me often that “no news is good news” — if something bad occurs, all carrier comms will be turned off immediately and I will hear from my CO’s Wife. However, the ship turns of communications often “to preserve OPSEC” (though I have a sneaking suspicion that their internet system just kind of sucks). When comms are turned-off, 9.999 times out of 10 it’s unrelated to bad stuff (and, in theory, it can be related to great stuff, too).
I prefer to talk to other military spouse friends when I am fretting about flights and down comms, since they fret for the same reasons, but my fretting usually occurs when it’s nighttime here and daytime elsewhere. Therefore it’s my parents and my friends in the United States who are awake. Do I tell them of my worries? Do I worry my parents or my husband’s family? I don’t want to, but sometimes it just helps to tell someone that I’m worried (or lonely).
Much of my concern last night was stirred by a recent accident that stole the lives of two Navy helicopter personnel. They were supposed to be home, but the situation with Syria mandated that they extend their deployments. While these two husbands and fathers were supposed to be at home with their wives and children, a terrible accident occurred that resulted in their helicopter falling off the deck of their ship and into the ocean. Their bodies were never recovered, and two wives and four children are without their husband, father, best friend, provider, and love. They were supposed to be home.
Today, a few friends posted THIS on Facebook. It is co-authored by one of the grieving widows. It moved me to tears, but it is worth a few minutes of your time.
I heard from my husband this morning — all at once, in a flourish of emails that he had written yesterday. Who knows if the comms were down, or if there was just a hiccup in the email system on the boat. I was very relieved to hear from him, and I will continue to do my very best to not fret when there are hours or days of silence.
Fat chance of that happening, though!
One last thought: the military community is compartmentalized and divided by branches, jobs, geographical location, pay grade, enlisted and officer, etc. However, every service member and service family considers the United States military to be an extended family. If a tragedy strikes one group, it strikes us all. We may rib each other about these divisions in a light hearted way, but these divisions are only superficial. We all serve together, we all depend on one another, and we are in this fraternity as brothers and sisters. When mishaps and deaths occur, we all grieve, and there is much grieving for these two families.