Thursday, November 11

{11} I am Thankful for...

...all the experiences Shawn and I have had since we have been married.
Especially the time we spent in the AirForce after Shawn graduated Dental School.

Shawn and I were not sure where we wanted to live after school and thankfully a wonderful opportunity was presented to us.
Shawn had a desire to do a residency and get to experience aspects of dentistry that school just can't offer.  The AirForce has a wonderful residency program that fulfilled this desire beautifully while helping us financially get finished with school.
Shawn was accepted into an incredible residency in CA and we spend a year there... loving every minute!  We made the most of our time there and traveled from North to South along the coast and rung every bit of fun out of the short year we live there.

Next, we were stationed in MS... which was very convenient as we had decided that we wanted to eventually move back to AL to set up private practice and this was a convenient trek to see family and establish ourselves for life after the AirForce.  We were stationed in MS for 2 years and Shawn loved the interesting dental cases he had preparing pilots (we were on a pilot training base) for deployments, etc.  He had some challenging cases with sedation, etc, and he just loved all he learned there.

Just months before we were set to be released from the AirForce, came 9.11!
Shawn was at work, there was a huge TV in their waiting room and he and his staff watched in horror.  I was home but on my way to run out the door to volunteer at the children's school.  He called me, explained what was thought to be happening in NY, I was confused as to the magnitude... I just ran out the door in a hurry to get to the school.
I arrived at the school and was told that they were busing all military dependents (children) back to the base immediately for a base lockdown.  I couldn't get to Savannah (1st grade) and Christian (kindergarten) because they were already loaded on the bus and pulling out from the school.  Still I was so very confused as to what was really happening.
I followed the buses back to the base (45 minutes away) and sadly watched as the buses were let back onto base but no personal vehicles were allowed access back in. I was locked out of the base that my little ones were just bused in to!  Keep in mind that this was before cellphones were so common place.  I had my little 5 and 6 year old about to be dropped off at a bus stop that I was not there to pick them up from... I had no way of contacting Shawn to let him know I was stranded outside the base gate... I was pregnant and very emotional, very confused, very worried.
But other mother 'hens' at the bus stop scooped all the children without mommies there to pick them up and ushered them to a nearby park and left signs at the bus stop to let mommies know where their children were.  It took me 2 1/2 hours to get back on the base.

Savannah and Christian were safe and sound when I finally found them.  So very sadly they seemed to know more about what had all occured in NY and elsewhere than I was.  Christian told me, "mommy, there are now more bad people on the earth than good people cause the good people all died."  I had to assure Christian for weeks after that experience that he not worry, there were still so many, many good people on the earth and that he should not be afraid.  Of course, it did not help that we were on multiple lockdowns after that due to troops entering Afghanistan and so forth... it was a very topsy turvy time.

We watched as the Airlines spiraled and many of our pilot friends that were set to retire from service now had no options to leave the AirForce because there were no jobs available at the Airlines.  Shawn was set to exit the AirForce that following Spring and go into an associateship here in Huntsville, yet he was put on a 'stop loss' order that stated that we could not leave service until further notice.  When things settled, we were released but we saw how 9.11 affected others tremendously, deployments were huge, I hugged so many pilot's wives during that time as their husbands were pulled all different directions.

I grew up as an Army brat.  I am thankful for Shawn and I's time in theAirForce.  I will never underestimate again the sacrifice that military families make on my families behalf.  It is an overwhelming thought for me now!  To choose the life of the military is unmistakably selfless!  I'm so very thankful that we experienced even just 3 years of military life... it was a blessing for our family!

1 comment:

Debbie said...

What a nightmare! I've never heard that story. That would be so scary to not be able to get to your children. You definitely have to be selfless to serve in the military!