01 Nov

How it Works (He’s Back!)

A soldier coming home from a deployment doesn’t quite work the same way as grandma coming for a visit. They don’t get to buy a plane ticket months in advance and arrive at a prescribed date and time. Sure, the deployment as a whole is specified in advance on the unit’s deployment orders, so one can be pretty sure of the no-later-than date for their soldier’s return.

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But I’m hesitant to set my heart on any specific date because after nearly 15 years with the army, I know that the only constant is change. My strategy has always been to view the end of a deployment in broad terms like “next month” or “a few weeks” instead of absolutes like “before the 30th.” I usually prepare the kids for the farthest date out so when daddy comes home earlier, they are surprised, and when he comes home later, it’s still when they expected so they aren’t disappointed. I know some families that do countdowns, but how can you count down when the date is really just a window?

We knew the window was open when Mr. Incredible moved out of his Containerized Housing Unit and into a bay. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the flight out. Leaving Iraq is by Air Force plane. Their flight plans are not like a commercial airline’s. If they don’t want to fly in a sandstorm, they don’t (and I gotta respect that). But that also doesn’t mean that when the sandstorm ends the plane is waiting there to pick up where they left off. They might be off doing other things. So although one might be on the list to go home on Monday, it’s just as likely they’ll actually fly on Wednesday. Or the next Monday. Most of the trip home is on a plane chartered for the purpose. Once on the charter plane, it’s much easier to gauge when the soldiers will be home.

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We got our official phone call two days ago — Mr. Incredible is wheels up and on his way! Now we knew that he was due Sunday morning (though we had our suspicions that he had finally gotten on a plane when the silly emails forwarding LOLcats stopped and the Facebook posts went silent). Once back on US soil, Mr. Incredible was able to check in with us at the designated fuel stops. Many kudos go to the greeters in Bangor, Maine who not only had coffee and snacks, but cell phones for soldiers to call home with. Then we got another official phone call last night confirming they were still on time.

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First thing this morning, we drove to the airfield for the welcoming ceremony. Banners and flags and cheesy “Rocky” music as the soldiers entered the hangar. Then the less cheesy Division march and the Army song, followed by The Star Spangled Banner and a blessing. A very few words by the ranking guy there and everyone was released to go home with their families!

40 thoughts on “How it Works (He’s Back!)

  1. I just heard about the Bangor ME greeters from something I read in the NY Times this morning. How cool are those folks to do that. Hope you get some nice R & R for yourself now. I am suggesting that Mr Incredible take over the Furlough Fridays!! LOL

  2. Yay! My husband has been home from his deployment (12 months, that was extended for four extra months after some of the guys were already home) for nearly 3 years, I still tear up thinking about it! I’ve never been so excited at any moment in my life. Best. day. ever. So glad that Mr Incredible has returned.

  3. I remember when my son would come home from Iraq (He went over 3 times) He would always call from Bangor, and I would call the whole family to let them know that he was back in the US. He was stationed 3000 miles from home, so I never actually got to meet him. I’m glad Mr. Incredible is home safe again.

  4. Happy, happy, happy! I also can’t get over how much your children have grown! Thank Mr. Incredible for me. Cheers.

  5. Thanks for your detailed report. It’s very interesting to hear how things actually work for real-life families.

    So happy for you to have Mr. Incredible back – boy, does he ever deserve that title.

  6. Great picture of Art and the kids. I’m so glad he is home safe and sound. Enjoy this time with him. –M

  7. Aunt Janet’s comment was, “Oh good, he’s home in time to eat the kids’ Halloween candy.”

  8. Welcome home!!!!!! I ride with two motorcycle clubs that do welcome homes. I have been on many welcome home rides over the past two years, each one touches my heart and I have tears in my eyes each time. I am the mom of two Army soldiers and my oldest son will be deployed after the first of the year. Reading both of your blogs gives me a piece of mind knowing my sons will be safe. Thank-you and G-d bless you and all of our military men and women.

  9. My husband and I are going through out 1st deployment and r&r has been pushed back 3 times! By the time I see him it’ll be 10months into our 12month deployment. He gave me a date, told me to buy a plane ticket because he wants to be with family, then he’ll meet me there. That day came and went and I never flew home. We’re stationed almost 4,000 miles away from home. The stress of not knowing was incrediable. I knew never to plan but my husband had my hopes up, so did his family. All in all he’s decided to come home and be with me instead of making plans to fly back home, which is what I wanted to begin with. Nothing is set in stone with the military and I’ve learn not to get my hopes up or get disappointed πŸ™‚

  10. ItΒ΄s so good to know you and the kids have him back, Kristin. We are very happy for you. Enjoy your time, and welcome back to family life, red wine on the couch, foot reflex massage πŸ˜‰ and “Hey Art, will you take care of the kids, honey, while IΒ΄m off to the beach with the girls”….. :-))))

  11. Ahhh, you had me at ‘wheels up’ πŸ™‚ There are very few moments that can top the one where you first see your husband after a deployment. So glad you have yours home in time for the holidays!

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