It’s been 8 years. Wow; it’s hard to believe. I some ways I feels like yesterday and in others it seems a lifetime ago. Most people in the military around my age joined after the horrific events of September 11th 2001. I was active duty Air Force at the time and it was a much different military then. I was in during the USS Cole bombing and I talk to some who don’t even know what the Cole bombing is (if you don’t you should read this).
You’ll probably learn more about me personally in this post that you have in any others. I graduated high school a year early and joined the Air Force at 17. After basic training and tech school (where I graduated as the distinguished honor graduate) I was stationed at Langley AFB VA. I met Hubby not long after I moved here but we where just friends. I loved it! I loved my job; I was assigned to headquarters just out of tech school which is unheard of. I even loved my boss and most of the people that I worked with. I had it good, I didn’t deploy, I didn’t even have to play in the exercise on base. I wore my blues to work everyday and was grateful!
Hubby had a different life in the Air Force; he works maintenance. This means he goes where the jets go. Back then they use to do 90 day deployments to Saudi Arabia. Oh they would bitch and moan because it was hot and they couldn’t drink but the bases where built up and had chow halls, dorms, pools and community centers. Yeah they worked hard over there but it wasn’t ‘that bad’ Hubby’s squadron returned from the deployment from Saudi on September 9th 2001.
When the 2nd plane hit I remember thanking God they where home. Then the chaos happen, the phone lines where jammed everywhere, the gates to the bases where closed. No one could get on or off. We went to a 24/7 operation. Finally they started letting people off but only authorized personal could get back in.
I lived on base in the dorms at this time so I told everyone I’d stay. I worked 23.5 hours that day. My family was in panic because they couldn’t get through to me. Life changed. Things didn’t happen as quickly as I thought they would but no more blues to work, we now all wore our BDU’s (battle dress uniforms). Stop loss was put into effect which meant Hubby couldn’t separate from the Air Force as he had previously planned. Before 9/11 if you had stickers on your car you where waved through the gates. Now they stopped each car and search most. We all waited.
In October my mother flew down to see me and we had planned a Washington DC trip. Neither of us had been and it’d been in the works for months. She was practically striped searched in the air port and had to be there 3 hours in advanced to get from Maine to Virginia! Everyone said we where crazy but we went to DC as planned. I saw the enormous hole in the Pentagon. The streets where all blocked and you couldn’t drive anywhere near the Whitehouse or monuments. We had a wonderful time, we walked everywhere and saw everything, we went on living our lives as we deserved to.
We didn’t deploy troops to Iraq until March of 2003 and we’re still there today. This isn’t a political blog so I won’t go into my views on the war or the decisions made by people who are unaffected by the choices they make for our military but I will say that day changed my life. Hubby and I wouldn’t not be married today if he had not been ‘forced’ to extend his enlistment, after all was said and one he made the choice to stay and just hit 11 ½ years of service. I separated from the Air Force in September of 2005 because we decided we wanted to have a baby. One of us needed to be able to stay home with her if the other was deployed so I gave up my Air Force career and put in for a pregnancy separation. Do I regret it? No. Do I miss the military? Sometimes
I’m sure September 11th is going to be one of those times you will always remember where you where and what you where doing. Regardless of your stand on the political issues; today is a time to remember those who lost their lives and pray for all our military heroes.