The backbone of the home you see.
DEDICATED TO THE AIR FORCE FAMILY OF
USAF Helicopter Family Member
The wife of a USAF helicopter man is indeed a special individual. As a young girl her dreams were bold. She dreamed of a fine career, a careless and carefree life, maybe of marriage to a wealthy man and a life of luxury with a fine home and family. But she fell in love with a man that was or was about to become married to another….the USAF helicopter life. By doing so she put aside a lot of those girlhood dreams and took on a significant role in the accomplishments of the USAF helicopter missions. She grew, persevered and flourished in her chosen role, accepting and meeting all the new challenges that were part of her role as The Wife.
The wife bravely sees’ her husband off at the base or airport, often with their children at her side. She sheds a few tears as she gets that last hug and goodbye kiss, tells him that she love’s him and urges him to be safe and return home soon. She stands by until the last moment, hoping to catch that last glimpse of her best friend, companion, lover, husband and father of their children, until the plane he is on is out of site.
Once the plane is out of site, its time to head home with the kids, all the time putting on a brave face for them and trying to make their lives as normal as possible without a dad around. After the kids are in bed that first night and the home is quiet, its time for her to prepare for climbing alone into their empty bed and having that real deep, emotional cry that she kept bottled up all day so the kids wouldn’t be more upset. A time to prepare for a life of letters, care packages, tapes, movies and emails and maybe an occasional phone call until the husband returns. An extended time of missed birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, holidays, sometimes the birth of a new child and missed experiences with each other. Times of juggling medical crises, home emergencies, a job and household chores all alone.
Often, the wife is not only dealing with the pending departure of her husband and having to deal with maintaining a family by herself, but she has to do this in a new community, and a new home, while finding new friends because the husbands departure requires a move to a new location. At times she is tasked with doing all this after her husband has departed.
Even during “normal” military life the wife has to become accustom to frequent moves, often on short notice and all the preparation, scheduling, chaos and perplexity that go with it. Making moves cross country to a new base or to an overseas assignment and dealing with all the unknowns of doing so. Setting up a new household in a strange and unfamiliar location, getting the kids into new schools, making new friends and maybe finding a new job. Having family plans canceled because the husband was called in to support a short notice helicopter mission.
Always with the fear in the back of her mind that she might receive that unwanted official visit from a uniformed officer bringing her news she had hoped to never hear.
To be fair all USAF helicopter husbands should come with a warning and benefits label that the future USAF helicopter wife can review prior to acceptance of his offer of marriage. This warning should say something like this;
Warning Number 1 --I’m a member of the USAF and we will move a lot, often on very short notice. We will have very little, if any, control over when and where we will go and sometimes we will be told at the last moment that we are going somewhere else. There will also be times when you will have to make all the arrangements and handle these moves by yourself as I will have already been deployed. You will need to be very flexible and have good skills at setting up a new household in a new area on your own.
Warning Number 2 –As a member of the USAF we will not have the best of pay scales. It can be assumed that you will also have to have a job to supplement our family income. However you will have to seek employment with limited opportunities for growth and advancement since you will be obligated under the terms of Warning Number 1 to make frequent changes in your employment.
Warning Number 3 –If you are a sentimental person, you can expect some difficulties as I will probably miss a lot of Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s days and so forth. But I will send cards, maybe emails and try to call and we can celebrate these missed times when I return home from where ever I am. You must be aware that my job can be dangerous and when I have been deployed, you may not hear from me for long stretches of time. I even may not be able to tell you where I am. You will have to be able to handle these situations with grace and dignity. This will require you to continue on with your ‘normal’ life and not get upset and depressed and cry every time you see your friends and neighbors husbands coming home for dinner each evening.
Warning Number 4 –Since I will be gone a great deal more than 50% of the time, you will need to be able to handle crises at home. Such as dealing alone, with hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and any other natural disasters that comes your way. Also the more routine responsibilities of the home and family such as shuttling the kids to games, lessons or fixing the toilet, mowing and fertilizing the lawn, changing light bulbs, getting the car serviced, paying the bills and still making it to your job on time….all by yourself.
Warning Number 5 –You must be able to be strong and flexible with friendships since your obligations under Warning Number 1 will require changing friends an neighbors frequently. You must be able to give up friendships that have developed at one assignment and be able to strike up new ones at the next.
Benefit Number 1 –During our marriage and time and travel together as a member of the USAF helicopter family you will meet some of the best friends of your life. You will go places, see and do things you never imagined possible. You will be in the ranks of some of the strongest women in the world, that of the military spouses.
Benefit Number 2 –You will have the personal pride and satisfaction that as my wife, friend and companion, you will have made enormous personal sacrifices (all too often without any reward or commendation) to help me serve our country. You will know that by providing me with your support and encouragement and by your acceptance and discharge of family responsibilities in my absence, that you have contributed greatly to my effectiveness in the accomplishment of my assigned mission. You will know that in doing so; you have also served our country and helped protect its freedoms and its way of life for us, our family and our fellow citizens. For this I, our family and our country will always be grateful.
Warning Number 6 –If all the above warnings are acceptable to you and you are going to accept my offer of marriage, I’ll need your answer right away so we can get the wedding ceremony done quickly as I have to report to duty in a few hours. By the way….we will be moving to a new assignment next month.
Warning Number 7 –Don’t say I never warned you!
There should be no doubt that the Wife in the USAF military helicopter family is the key and crucial individual that provides the crucial support and encouragement to the married USAF helicopter crew men, maintainers and support personnel, that make it possible for them to accomplish their mission.
For this we offer our deepest and most grateful appreciation to all the wives who maintained the home front in our absence. We applaud their strength, courage and accomplishments and offer our most sincere and heartfelt “THANKS FOR A JOB WELL DONE”.
We offer the following song, “The Rock” by Amy-Jane McCabe as a tribute to all the wives of USAF helicopter men.
THIS "SPECIAL" TRIBUTE COURTESY OF JIM BURNS