mothers day

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our Soldier is now at Ft Lewis Washington

Well - he has gone - on a big plane in the sky. Actually we left as he was still walking up to the plane with about 150 soldiers ahead of him as they slowly loaded for the flight since Boo needed a diaper change and had been as patient as an 18 month old could be. He was ready to be out of there. Dirk had thought they would be traveling in one of the big green C140's but they had a commercial plane parked out in front of the hanger that we didn't see until they opened the huge doors of the hanger.

Dirk and Da did really well - I think they both have primed themselves for this day and stayed in good spirits knowing that breaking down would only hurt each other. They have so much love for each other and I started to cry a little when Dirk was giving Benji this huge hug before he headed out the to tarmac. Of course Benji didn't have any idea as to why he was being squoze (is that a word?) to death but his daddy is going to miss him so very much.

They had all 319 soldiers plus their families in a huge hanger - thank heavens they had the doors closed and it was actually warm! Da said that when they got there at 7:30 the place was still cold but when we got there about 8:15 it was warm enough to take off the coats. Benji had a great time running around in a corner of the hanger where there weren't many people. He had found some moveable steps when Grandma Porter was chasing him and when he headed back 15 minutes later a couple were sitting on them...he gave them the strangest look - like "what are you doing sitting on my toy?"
There was a little girl about 3 years old all dressed in desert cammo's like her daddy, right down to the boots!! She had a cuddly teddy bear that Boo thought should be his...finally he decided he would be happy with his fish. As you can see in this picture there were lots and lots of people there.

Dirk and Da and Benji were there of course. I rode down with Da's parents, Marilyn and Orson. We stopped at the Fairgrounds on 10th West and picked up Da's brother Mike. Kelly was going to come but couldn't make it. I felt bad later when I realized we went to Denny's after we left the airport and I bet Kelly could have met us by then. Of course, Dirk was not with us by then. Da's sister Michelle and her husband Mike came with their three kids to be family for Mike's cousin Kidsy who has been living with them for several months. She was flying out with the 3pm group so they all came to lunch with us and her mom and two sisters joined us at Denny's.

There was a huge gorgeous flag hanging in the hanger - with a podium in front for several speakers - they all kept their remarks short. The Commander of the 319th was there and talked about how thankful he was for our MI Battalion when his soldiers were sent to Iraq and Bosnia. It was the MI battalions job to make life safer for his soldiers and he just wanted to say thanks. The governor even showed up and talked about how special these soldiers were and what a great job thing they were doing. He said that he had been in Washington DC yesterday and had talked to the Admiral in charge of all our troops over there and told him what a special bunch we were sending to them and that he wanted to make sure that their leaders would be watchful of them and make sure they appreciated the caliber of men and women we were sending. The dignitaries all went out to the plane so that they could shake hands with each soldier as he departed. That makes two governors that Dirk has shook hands with as a soldier.

Marilyn called me abut 6:15 and said that they had just seen Dirk on channel two. I guess they were interviewing the chaplain and his family and then scanned the group and got a good pic of Dirk. I am anxious to see if it is on the ten o'clock news.

To end on a happy note - while the dignitaries were talking they called a female soldier up out of the crowd and had her stand next to her CO. Then they called another soldier up and after he saluted the CO he knelt down in front of the female soldier and proposed - ring and all - let me tell you, the TV cameras came running fast and so they will probably highlight that bit of happiness on each of the channels tonight. It was fun and it gave us a chance to have a giggle when we most needed it. She said YES!

To Dirk I want to say I LOVE YOU. I will miss you and I am so very proud of you. I know that grandma Nielson is the one that taught you to love the flag, and your dad is the one that set the example for military service, but hopefully there is a little bit of me in there saying Do your best, do your duty (maybe that is the scoutmaster speaking there!) and COME HOME SAFE AND SOUND TO US ALL! You are a special man, with a special spirit. Be proud of who you are. You have a terrific little family that loves you very much - we will help make the year go by more easily for them.


Kecia said...

Man, I should have asked. I really wanted to go, but I didn't want to intrude on Da and Dirk's last few minutes together. Thanks for the report. I've tried to stay busy all day, but when I get a few quiet moments, I can't help but think about Dirk leaving. I guess its good I wasn't there, I would have started crying. Why is it so much harder to send him off this time? I guess because now he has wonderful Da and Mr. Boo.

Mauri said...

Ditto Kecia, although there was no way I could have come although I would have liked to.
Don't forget little boofer too.

Melinda said...

Thanks for this post, Susan. It's wonderful. I'm glad he got to Ft. Lewis safely. He wasn't on the channel 2 news at 10. They cut the segment way down, and the footage of Dirk wasn't there.

Maybe we should have just invited everyone who wanted to come. I'm sorry, Kecia and Mauri. I didn't know you wanted to come. We kept it small because of the crowds and the non-kid-friendly conditions (airplane hangar without even a drinking fountain, and port-a-potties out back). But lots of other soldiers had large groups of family with little babies too, so we could have done it too. My sister even showed up with all three of her kids, which surprised me.

Kristanne said...

I agree it would have been nice to be there, but we didn't want to intrude and we did have other things going on. We probably would have ruined it as well and cried. And when everyone is crying it makes it all the harder. Shawn and I have discussed how much harder this time seems and I am sure it is because he finally has his own family and now has to leave them, and it is hard on Melinda as well for the same reason. We will miss him and keep him in our prayers.

On a happier side, since Melinda is missing her main squeeze and needs some attention - maybe we now have the opportunity to get to know her better!!

Susan said...

I could shoot Dirk for making it sound like he couldn't have anyone but mom and dad at the farewell - there was 'plenty' of room for more family but Dirk was afraid there wouldn't be enough room. However, he got a good send off - and he knows we love him. Yes - between emailing Dirk and calling and visiting Da we should be able to make this year pass more quickly. By the way - Happy Birthday Melinda!!