Daddy’s Home by George L. Fisher
In honor of Veterans Day, I give you a forth helping of George…. my great friend and school-mate (even though we graduated 9 years apart…LONG story!). I offered this guest post a few years ago and reprised it for Memorial Day in 2011. This is just TOO GOOD not to share…..AGAIN!
Indulge me friends and if you haven’t read this… you are in for a HUGE treat! If you have, you KNOW this second or third helping of George and his unique and colorful way of telling a story is ALWAYS worth the time to read and share!
Veterans Day is a PERFECT time to thank all of my friends and loved ones who have served…. All my GOLDEN BOOTS friends (you KNOW who you are!), My father the late John H. Todd for his service in the Army Air Corp, My uncle the late Richard Thompson who served in the Navy and Coast Guard (retired), My brothers, Johnny W. Todd and James David Todd who both served in the US Navy (and David still serves as a DOD employee in Japan), my daughter’s father, Retired Commander Michael Gray McQuaig who retired after 28 years in service to the US Navy VP Community, and of course my friend LTC George Fisher who served GA Army National Guard- Iraq Vet!
There are others too numerous to mention here but I want to honor their service to our country. A sincere “thank you” from this former Navy Wife…. I understand service all too well! I chose the title for this post “Daddy’s Home”. I believe you will enjoy it as much as I did he recounts the story of his homecoming from Iraq a few years ago. Read, laugh, cry and enjoy!
Veterans Day in two days, and I sit comfortably surrounded by everything near and dear to me–
I dare don’t take one morsel of it for granted—And memories come flooding back of how it is when you’re “away” and the one thing that matters most is HOME…
For all you VETERANS, and especially my 48th Friends 8000 miles away in harms way–I am thinking of you, your families, and heres hoping that all of you will have the homecoming that I was fortunate to have just a few years ago—–just hang on folks, youre almost there! We love and miss you all.
(The below from my journal—pardon the grammar, syntax, etc…)
….And so it was, on the 11th day of May, 2006, we watched the sunrise at 30,000 feet, and then began our descent over the greatest place I know—Georgia.
Coming in over Savannah, you could see the Savannah River going out into the Atlantic Ocean, and all the wetlands in between. We saw downtown Savannah, and the Riverfront, where we have consumed many adult beverages and negotiated the cobblestones. About the time we get a visual of the span of the Bridge leading into South Carolina, the flaps and landing gear come down. The movie on the video screen is the latest Harry Potter flick, and no one seems to mind that we do not get to see its end. Far as I can figure, Hocus Pocus Harry gets out of yet another death defying scrape with the monsters and will live to see puberty.
None of that matters now.
The plane, full of the buzz of conversation, now becomes eerily quiet. Anticipation has filled the cabin and has found its way into our larynxes, which have rendered us speechless. All we hear is the whining of the turbines of these four huge jet engines, the flaps adjusting, the leading edge slats, and the landing gear. The stewardesses have “prepared the cabin for landing” as instructed by the Pilot…..there is nothing left to do now but attempt to contain the million and one thoughts going on in our heads and listen for the squeal of tires hitting the tarmac.
We are now flying at 2000 feet I guess. Lower and lower, so you can see the types of cars on the road, the roof of the waffle House and Wal Mart, and even read the signs on the highway. Another slight turn and lower still, until we are aligned with the runway—it is deathly quiet. Lower….lower, nose up, engines whining…….We are all waiting for the same thing—
The Cabin EXPLODES in cheers. Hugs, high fives, and Rebel Yells expound. Had I not known better one would have thought there to be an exorcism and a couple of castrations being performed back in tourist class.
If I had to use one word to describe the feeling when those wheels touched the ground: indescribable.
If I person had a window seat, their nose was pressed up to the plexiglass, and more times than not there were two faces sharing the glass with another two people looking at the backs of their heads attempting to peer thru what would become available.
When I finally got my chance to look out the window, we saw lots of flags and people waving —it struck me as strange because I thought all of that was going to happen at Ft. Stewart, which was still a 45 minute bus ride away—one of the first people I saw was Col David Young—he is just like family, and just seeing him put a lump in my throat—the first of many lumps on this day.
Everyone lined up to walk down the steps of the plane onto the tarmac—being greeted by Gen. Rodeheaver, Gen. Ross, and several others—Salutes and hugs continued, and if I had only one word to describe it all: indescribable.
We walked thru the receiving line and directly into a line where we turned in our weapons— FINALLY! I only carried a pistol, so I haven’t a leg to stand on when its time to complain, but man alive were we tired of carrying and keeping up with these things.
After turn in of the weapons, we went thru another receiving line of the local USO volunteers, waving flags and telling us welcome home—what a wonderful organization the USO is…and when I got to thinking about those wonderful folks coming out there to greet our troops, lump number 2 showed up.
Inside the building we were basically herded until we could make sure we had all our folks accounted for…It was during this that I decided I needed to shave—unlike the rest of the troops, I opted to check all of my bags and didn’t carry on anything I couldn’t cram in my pockets—consequently, I couldn’t get to my electric razor—when I asked around I found that one of the fellows had an extra, and shaving cream to boot—so I hurried off to the latrine and hacked away enough to get the stubble removed and two fresh cuts on my chin and neck—oh well.
As we prepared to load the busses, another good thing—we were pulled out of the formation and into an awaiting van—compliments of the boys on the advanced party—some small talk and an iced down cooler of drinks (Ok, it was beer)awaited us on the short ride back to Ft. Stewart—
My mind raced as I thought about Sue and the kids—I had called them only with minimal notice when we found out we would be flying sooner—they had planned on Saturday and here it was Thursday—Sue had very little time to do much more than throw the kids in the car and head south—I sure hoped they had made it ok—I had a lot of friends and family who I know would have been there had I mentioned it, but I had decided—at the risk of hurt feelings— that I wanted to see just “my crew”—the others would wait until I got back home—and with the hassles of getting on Ft Stewart and trying to find ones way around—it would have driven everyone else nuts—I was willing to make my crew go thru that but not the rest of them—
We got to Ft. Stewart a few minutes before the busses did, and parked on the side of the parade field where all the troops assembled—across the field we could look thru the bushes and see all the families, the dignitaries—the streamers, the flags, the band playing—it was a sea of red white and blue, and if I had to use one word to describe it all: indescribable.
A few minutes later the busses begin to arrive, and they all start blowing the horns—the band is playing, and the bleachers and all its surrounding area have all gone berserk—We are a good football field away and it is a sight to behold—the Busses drive around the perimeter of the Parade field and unload all the rest of our troops—We are very quickly mustered into a formation—we are lined up, with LTC Jeff Edge as the formation leader—we are marched onto the field, attempting to stay in step, abreast of each other, dressed right and covered down, etc. We are all hollering at each other trying to keep each other in step—which is like the Keystone Cops—it was a riot—
Maj Marshall Rich ends up being the base and pivot man in our gaggle—somehow in the chaos, as we swing around the trees that border the Parade field we amble out into full view of the bleachers and all those families—the screams we heard earlier pale in comparison to what we hear now—Divine intervention ensues and we all step as one—the left foot down on the heavy beat of the drum—automatically heads up, chests out, and how in the WORLD did I end up in the front rank?!?
It all is happening in a whirlwind, and we close in on the crowd…
I scan as fast as my eyes looking for my crew…Last time I saw jumping and screaming like this was at a Hank Jr concert…but this was entirely different….this had all the characteristics of one of those defining moments in a persons life—one of those images one takes to ones grave…..I look as hard as I know how from underneath my cap, pulled down to keep the glare out of my eyes— starting from left, then the right—I see a tall brown headed lady jumping up and down with a sign screaming her head off—next to her is a young man in a red white and blue shirt who is in dire need of a haircut—a little blonde headed girl stands a few feet from them—behind them I see my wife Susan—I see her, and a split second later realize the tall brown haired lady is my 16 yr old daughter Amanda, and the young man in dire need of a Barber is none other than mans best friend Joe, my 14 yr old bass master—Lyndsay, the third and youngest of my crew, seems to have grown a foot and completes this vision as my eyes brim with tears—
Amazingly, I have spotted these 4 needles in the haystack—-I was in the middle of a defining moment—I knew it was a defining moment because at the same moment I spotted all of them, lump number 3, the biggest one of all, rose up from my heart to my throat. It made my ears ring, and my heart pound. Adrenaline pumped thru me to the point I know I could have bounced bullets off my chest. I thought I was about to bust.
Being in formation, all I could manage to do, though, was grin—an ear to ear one, and one a mortician couldn’t remove. It was like my face was smiling, laughing and crying at the same time. I knew everyone else’s face was doing the same thing so there was no need to worry about it.
Everything is a blur—that’s what happens when one is on cloud nine——Jeff saluted and officially reported to Gen Ross— Then the National Anthem was played while everyone paid their respects.
Gen. Ross made a very short welcome home speech. It may have been a minute long—he KNEW it didn’t need to be any longer…
Then something strange happened….
What was supposed to happen—After Gen Ross’ comments, the Army song was to be played, THEN the families would be cut loose to greet their loved ones. This was to happen AFTER the playing of the ARMY SONG. The Families had been told this and I believe we were told the same thing—but like I said, it was all a blur…
What ACTUALLY happened—After General Ross’ brief comments, he mentioned that his remarks were concluded— At the precise moment he said “That’s all I have…”
These three kids— all of whom belong to me—BOLTED from the confines of the throng of families and distinguished guests, as if they had been shot out of a cannon.
(It is important to note that no one else in this entire huge crowd had budged—nary a one, save for three redneck kids from Macon)
In a flash I could see all three—eyes wide open, with grins on their faces as big as mine—hauling ass toward me—Joe, followed by Lyndsay, followed by Amanda…I attempted to wave them off but in that fraction of a second I had to decide what was more important—wave them off or prepare for the impending train wreck. Their combined weight exceeded mine by about a hundred pounds and had I not braced myself accordingly, I may have been a combat casualty right there on the Parade field.
I heard someone in the rank behind me say “Here they come” and that’s when I got it full blast—-WHUMP….WHUMP……WHUMP….as each of those redneck Fisher kids plowed into me-Joe having launched himself in the air a good eight feet prior….
I had my arms full of Fisher kids, and all we could do was cry..
I may have even told them to go back into the stands until the damn Army song was finished..IT was all a blur and If I had only one word to describe it:
A few moments into what I think is the bestest group hug of all time, I realize I can’t see much because of Amanda’s hair all over the place—She is crying, and I have her head against my shoulder, and I can only feel Joes head and ball cap under my armpit—I open my eyes and see a few pairs of shoes, and for the first time I speak—
I couldn’t feel or find her in the scrum—as I am looking down I see this little body and blonde head backing into the entanglement shoving herself thru an opening, tilting her head back and yelling “I’m Right Here!!”
Long Story a tad longer—The Photographers and News people saw my little Rednecks break ranks and followed suit, the end result which was having my defining moment captured in pictures and our pictures on the front pages of several newspapers—one of which was the Moultrie Observer—my Grandfathers hometown (and his favorite) newspaper.
The family and I all drove home, where the neighbors had hung a “WELCOME HOME GEORGE” banner across the front porch and the front yard was festooned with 145 American Flags—my cup runneth over some more.
The next afternoon I was lying on my back deck in the hammock looking at the bluest sky I ever saw, contrasted by the wonderful green grass and trees of Middle Georgia. This was unreal. I must have died and went to heaven—-and If I only had one word to describe how it felt: Indescribable.
I glanced down at my watch and noticed I still had it set 9 hours ahead—Iraqi time.
I pulled the stem out and reset my watch. In the background I could hear Sue knocking around in the kitchen preparing supper. I felt my eyelids getting heavy and drifted off to sleep.
I was home.
**********UPDATE: View George’s photo on the following MSN link (pic #13) WOO HOO!!!!
Other related articles: http://www.qando.net/?p=8599 (this is hearbreaking of a young woman grieving at her boyfriend/ husband’s grave. please view!
Info on mural above available at: http://artmuralsforkids.blogspot.com/2011/04/tropical-earth-day-mural.html
HAPPY EARTH DAY!
(I wrote this a few years ago but it is still as important as it was then! Thank you for reading and for your comments.)
I think it is fair to say that the Earth will be saved or not by the latest generation to hit the planet….our kids! I know we (Gen “X”ers) did not always do the best for the Earth but I love what Maya Angelou said:
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
— Maya Angelou
I certainly know better now and I try to do better,
about a variety of things…saving out natural resources is just one of them!
I have listed below a few things that we can do on Earth Day and every day to conserve energy. Let’s get our kids involved so that these and many other actions will become second nature to them and their generation!
- Turn off the lights when not using or when leaving the room.
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) This will also say you $$$ in the long run!
- Reduce your Carbon Footprint (ask the kids what they think this means…might be fun to hear the answers!)
- Use Reusable bags when shopping
- Water…Use it wisely! Take shorter showers…
- Turn the water off when you brush your teeth!
- Shop local Farmers Markets / Buy Local!
- Drive less…walk to work or at least carpool
- Use less plastic bottles or pledge to buy no disposable bottles for a month, a year or more!
- Plant a tree!
- Wash your clothes in cold water
- Use low flow shower heads
- Make a family decision to Recycle/Reuse/Reduce/Replenish/Restore…
every chance you get!
This says it all!
Good Links for kids!
Free Stuff for Earth Day!
2. Starbucks: FREE coffee or tea with your reusable mug on Friday
in Dining Deals. Compliments of http://www.couponingtodisney.com/2011/04/20/starbucks-free-coffee-or-tea-with-your-reusable-mug-on-friday/
READ ACROSS AMERICA
On March 2, the National Education Association calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
What better way to celebrate Dr. Seuss‘s birthday than reading to a child? On the evening of March 2nd (Dr. Seuss’s birthday), Random House and the National Education Association (NEA) urge you to participate in the annual Read Across America and read to a child.
WHY CELEBRATE DR. SEUSS?
What other writer was born in the early 1900’s, wrote best selling children’s books in the 1950’s and who’s work probably is represented in your very own library right this minute? I can only think of one author that fits that bill! Dr. Seuss!
Dr. Seuss epitomizes a love of children and learning. Also, his use of rhyme makes his books an effective tool for teaching young children the basic skills they need to be successful. When we celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading, we send a clear message to America’s children that reading is fun and important.
Picture a world with no technology, art, and even words. That would be a boring world. Dr. Seuss made hilarious books, and if it wasn’t for him, we may not even have children books that teach kids how to rhyme. He may not seem like much of a hero but he didn’t have a very good childhood and still became a great writer and cartoonist. He worked hard toward his dream and he finally accomplished it.
Theodor Geisel was born March 2, 1904 and died on September 24, 1991. That was a day to be sad. In 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden opened in his birthplace of Springfield Massachusetts. It features sculptures of Dr. Seuss and of many of his characters. More than 200 million of Dr. Seuss’s books have been bartered in more than 15 different languages all over the world.
Dr. Seuss’s contributions were amazing. He grew up from a child and he worked for his dreams, and they came true. If it wasn’t for Dr. Seuss children may not have enjoyed reading as much. Dr. Seuss taught kids that reading is fun. They learned about Sneetches and Grinches, and earned a big imagination.
Many schools celebrated his 100th birthday on March 2, 2004. They realized Dr. Seuss’s talent in art, so did many other people. I guess that all that Ted did helped him become the man that he grew up to be. Thank you for Dr. Seuss.
Another great Dr. Seuss idea from a friend of mine: Christy Jordan
Dr. Seuss Wocket In My Pocket Cupcakes! *Wocket Cupcake Printable*
Click the Share button below to got to Christy’s blog. There you will find instructions on how to make these adorable cupcakes and the links to print out the toppers! Thanks Christy!!!! (the photo below is her’s also)
Also from Christy’s blog….”
And here is a special poem I found on the NEA website!
Read Across America Poem
~Courtesy of the NEA
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.
In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.
There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.
Come join us March 2nd
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day.”
Welcome to “Be My Guest Thursday”. Yes… I know it’s been awhile! Please enjoy this guest post by my great friend George L. Fisher whom I always tip my hat to on every holiday that represents our military! Thank you George for your service to this great country that we love and thank you for reminding us who we should be thinking about as we go about enjoying “our way of life”.
“Our way of life…compliments of those who didn’t make it back.” By George L. Fisher, LTC US Army
I have spent many Memorial Days attending remembrance ceremonies over the years.
I think it is important.
I have also spent many Memorial Days enjoying what we call the American way of life-cooking out, swimming, and enjoying time with family.
I think that is important, too.
Some others may disagree with me, but I think there is no better way to honor our Fallen Comrades than by enjoying Memorial Day by all those things–cookouts, ball games, recreational activities, and being with family— Why? Even if you take advantage of that Memorial Day sale–whatever the day encompasses, as long as we understand HOW we got here–by the blood of Americans, past and present–and as long as we are acutely aware that if we are to preserve our way of life–then not only must we remember but we must be prepared.
In today’s time, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day are virtually the same–and now more than ever our nation tips its cap to our Military everyday. You can’t go out to eat, walk into a store, or even pump gas in a uniform without someone thanking you. It is extremely humbling and for me almost embarrassing because I’m nobody. Then you realize it’s not about you as much as it is the uniform and what you represent. My normal response besides “Thank You” is that “I’m just glad they allowed me the privilege to serve.”
REMEMBER–Memorial Day is about those that paid the ultimate price, those that didn’t make it back.
We MUST remember–not just on Memorial Day, but EVERY day we wake up as Americans–and then we can enjoy our way of life.
Speaking of the American way of life, on Monday, May 26th, I will be honorary team captain for the Atlanta Braves/Boston Red Sox game at Turner Field. My “duty” is to take the lineup card to the umpire. To say I’m excited for the opportunity is a gross understatement. I love baseball and the Atlanta Braves. My good friend, fellow Soldier, and Chaplain, Captain Leslie Nelson, offered my name. She knows I am a baseball fanatic. She is a wonderful Chaplain and brings great comfort to our Soldiers–she also helps us to remember.
So, on Memorial Day 2014, with my family in tow, we will enjoy our American way of life. It will be a great day, but I will remember it came at a high price — some of whom I studied, some I heard about, some I knew and hundreds of thousands who I never heard of but still garner the same respect. I will remember that I am only a representative to all the others, and that when someone thanks me they are thanking ALL who serve and have served…and I will thank God that I am an American.
Visit George’s blog at http://fisherchronicles.blogspot.com/
Past guest posts by George:
In a previous life, I was a Naval Officer’s wife….and all that comes with that. I was in my early 20’s the first time I experienced this thing they call deployment. Now I was no “Mama’s or Daddy’s girl”. Far from it. I had been involved in a scouting program from age 15 in national leadership which took me from my Georgia home to locations all over the US. So by age 19, when I met this charming and charismatic Navel Officer 8 years my senior, I was smitten! He was like no man I had ever met (and remains the holder of that title to this day). We met actually during a state-wide conference that I was running where he was there representing the US Navy in his job as a recruiter. What can I say about him… Funny… Sweet…and very unlike the “good ‘ol boys” that I was typically around in Macon. GA. So within 3 months of meeting and beginning to date, we were engaged. I know that seems quick! Realize that it was 1975 and the world spun a bit slower back then. Or so I’d like to think. Three months later we were married on a HOT Georgia August day with not a cloud in the sky. There I was in my pretty white puffy wedding dress, you probably know the style if you lived during that era! And there was my groom… in his white “Mess Dress” Naval Officer’s uniform with his gold Navy wings, all his “dangle metals” ,with his sword at his side and those Paul Newman blue eyes. Who would not have swooned?
As we made our way in life we continued to live another 2 years or so in Georgia and then one day, as it is inevitable, the detailer called! That is the person who is in charge of determining your destiny as I quickly learned. They assigned him to report to an air carrier for what they call a disassociated tour of duty. Basically as a P3 aviator, with the rank of LCDR, there is no place for you in a squadron. So they place you on a carrier…. Yeah a BIG ship that is gone more than it’s home! In the process of preparing for his tour of duty on CV 63 USS Kitty Hawk, there were interim schools to attend to prepare him for his work and ship life. We were headed to San Diego but not before a 3 month intermediate stop in Virginia Beach for training. Life is an adventure in the Navy. My husband went to Virginia a few weeks before me and I will never forget the look on my sweet dearly departed Mother’s face as she watched me pack my 1976 Audi Fox to the brim with a microwave, linens, all the household items I could muster, my clothes, his clothes and 2 blonde cocker spaniels. It was a 12 hour drive and I was doing it all by myself. She thought I was CRAZY! It was definitely the longest journey I had ever made by myself but as I would come to find out as a Navy wife…by no means my last! Three months came and went very fast. He was to meet the ship on deployment in progress right after Christmas. We drove cross-country to California and left the car with his best friend for the duration of the cruise. Then it was time to say goodbye. If you are a service wife you know how this goes…the sadness is just too much so you typically pick a fight the day before thus making the departure actually a relief! Well you may not actually do that by design, but more times than not, it works out that way. It’s a form of survival I suppose. I headed back to Georgia where I lived for about 5 months until it became time to pack up and move…. to San Diego. You know how most couples who are moving to a new city go on a home searching trip together and determine where they collectively would like to live? Well, no can do in the Navy. I flew to San Diego where I stayed with Navy friends of my husband’s whom I had never met and proceeded to pick out our new place. A few days later it was done. New condo, new address, new friends and new life. Then the day arrived. Now I was raised in the South and not on the ocean so I had never witnessed a Navy ship come home from deployment. I hope I can do it justice and describe the scene in case you haven’t ever experienced it yourself either.
Cool, crisp, salty sea air. San Diego’s majestic views. Excitement that you can feel in the air. Coming over the Coronado Bay Bridge that early morning in May with my loved ones that had joined me for his arrival… so early that ship was not in sight yet! Good …. we had time to get to the pier and post our signs and wait…. and wait… and wait…with about 5,000 other family members! As the carrier came in sight the crowd became joyous with excitement. Jubilant anticipation! Remembering that my wait had been about half as long as most of the wives with my husband’s joining the cruise in progress. I marveled at the fortitude that it takes to endure 10+ months without your partner. It is something most civilians will never have to experience and may not comprehend. There were newborn babies whose lives had begun since their dads left many months previous. There were reunions of the sweetest kind just getting ready to unfold with Daddies meeting their babies for the very first time! Get out the kleenex! As the ship drew nearer…. the faint outline of sailors on the deck came into focus. They were positioned all around the rail of the flight deck at parade rest… it was a sight to behold. These men (in those days only men on the ship) were so glad to be coming home after so many months of service. There were officers and enlisted men alike. The one thing that tied them all together was that ship, that deployment and that homecoming! It takes literally HOURS for a ship of this magnitude to dock. Then the moment arrives… the first men disembark. You’d think the Captain of the ship might be first off…. Not so. There is a special line for “First Time Dads” and the men who had not had the pleasure of holding their precious little ones are the first off…. then the tears start to fall! There are over 5,000 men in ship’s company. You can imagine the sea of happy reunions going on around you as each sailor finds his special ones that have been waiting on his arrival! By the time my husband disembarked and got to me I had cried off all the makeup that I put on that morning. That was a wonderful feeling to have him back home! Indescribable really. A feeling that is tough to explain but something I can remember vividly even 35 + years later!
During subsequent deployments I learned these truths: Your toilet only backs up when the husband is gone. The car is fine until the ship pulls out at which time there is something so wrong with it that they send a mechanic to Sweden to learn how to repair it! Meanwhile it stays in the shop for 6 months gathering dust! Washing machine repairs go up exponentially during deployment. Maytag loves that! Basically if it has moving parts it will either break or disintegrate while the husband is on deployment. This is Murphy’s law at it’s best! Being a Navy Wife was both frustrating and rewarding. This is why I say “Navy Wife….Toughest Job in the Navy”! My hat is off to all of you ladies who are out there standing that watch! I say press on and know that this Ex-Navy wife respects and applauds you!
Photo by https://www.navypictures.net/products/CV_63_USS_Kitty_Hawk_Photograph_2-2395-63.html
Info on the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) Contribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Kitty_Hawk_(CV-63)
Other Navy Wife related blogs to visit: