As my special gift to all of you who love a Vet or have loved ones serving our Country now or has previously served, I give you another “little cup of George”. Lt. Col George Fisher is my wonderful friend, fellow Maconite, and a fine example of what this country has to be proud of… those who bravely serve so that we may enjoy our freedom! Almost two years ago George’s great friend came home unexpectedly from Iraq. This is the story of how they “delivered the package” and surprised a very happy wife and family! Visit George’s blog: http://www.fisherchronicles.blogspot.com/and check back as he is a regular contributor to my blog as a part of my “Be My Guest Thursday!”. Thank you George for this story and for your service to our beloved USA!
The story of his own homecoming can be found here on my blog at https://dsgnmomonline.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/daddys-home-by-george-l-fisher/.
Read, cry, laugh and enjoy my talented friend’s words!A Soldier Comes Home
By George L. Fisher
Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 6:56pm
This whole thing started about two months ago in November-Major Mike “Lip
Dawg” Lipper, deployed soldier of the 48th Brigade, was planning the most
classified and potentially hazardous mission in his career.
Mike sent an email to a scant few individuals his warning order: to surprise his wife
Meg and the tater tots, Klein and Addison, on his early arrival home from
Afghanistan. Lip Dawg was to be sent home with the “Torch
Party”, the very first of the first in the unit that would help receive the
48th when they returned. It was payback time!
Top Secret, he said. Double secret probation. This was to be in retaliation
for the surprise visit she made back in May on a media visit to Camp
Atterbury while Mike was training for deployment, the shock of that surprise took 10
years off his life. He said so, and had you seen the look on his face, you
would have known this to be true.
A week or so after Mike’s warning order, the list of the “Torch
Party” was published–Mike wasn’t listed-I forwarded the email to him, which
not only ruined his day, but probably his entire month.
A little Background.
When I arrived in Iraq in 2005, it was dark, windy, hot, dusty, and I was
helpless,heartbroken and homesick. Out of the darkness roared Then Captain
Mike Lipper, hellbent for leather on a four-wheeled gator. He grabbed me, my
duffel bags, and took me to my quarters, pointed to the latrine, tucked me in
and said “I’ll come get you in the morning”….then roared back out into the
Iraq night to attend to other thankless duties as the Headquarters
In Short, I owed Mike Lipper. I love the guy. He is funny and even sold me
his mid-life crisis car, which is now my mid-life crisis car. If he needed
anything, I vowed, I would do my best to make it happen.
But here I was sending him an email that says he is NOT coming back early.
As things happen, only in the last two weeks did the Phoenix arise from the
ashes. There was a conference to be held at Ft Campbell, KY in late January
and it just so happened that Mike’s bosses in country assigned him to go,
and then let his R/R leave kick in as well!!! The surprise attack was BACK
The clandestine emails start back: there was a deception plan to fly Meg to
Kentucky “on business” that Ruth Sykes would be the main effort for-on the
contingency Mike had to report there first-then there was another course of
action where Mike would fly from Kentucky to Atlanta and one of us would pick
him up, hopefully in time to watch daughter Addisons last basketball game of
Plans were discussed, and “what if’d” to ensure a contingency and maximum
flexibility-and then the emails were silent for several days. We thought the
worst. Not another cancellation, we feared until the following message was
received immediately prior to Mikes going off the net for good:
“landing in ATL tomorrow – SUN morning at 0915.”
Little did we know he was in Kuwait already and on a borrowed computer.
Our “close circle of trust”, as Mike referred to us, would be left to solve
the rest of the math problem-The Rosses and Lewis’ would create the necessary
diversion at Church and the ensuing lunch on Sunday whilst I would, naturally
being a logistics guy, “secure the package”.
After supper, then to bed. 0300 hours, wide awake. I pace to and fro, to and
fro, to the bathroom, then to and fro some more-then downstairs to watch some
television, read the paper online, make coffee, and wait until Wifey awakes,
because she isn’t about to miss this.
It’s now 0330…..0335…..0345…..after an eternity, a pot of coffee and
finishing up a John Wayne movie, we are on the road at 0730. Arrive at 0830.
Park. Walk to North terminal. Go potty for the 8th time since 0300. Buy wifey
a froo froo coffee and find a seat. It’s on or about 0900-we see a crowd of
soldiers by baggage claim and go investigate just in case the “package”
arrived early. He hasn’t. We go back to our seats, strategically located that
no one gets past us without us seeing them.
Cricket. Cricket. The USO folks, ever-present and unsung heroes all, clap
each time a service person ascends from the escalator. Each time we look for
the package. Alas, it is other packages, all of them dear to our hearts, but
destined for other recipients.
It’s after 0915. I’m bug-eyed. Wifey said “he said it was going to take about
an hour”–and having been thru the same process I know this-yet it doesn’t
help my angst. I send a text message to the “attack team” that we are in
position and will apprise of updates.
0920…..0930. USO personnel clap. We look. Nada. Lather, rinse and repeat.
0945, 0955, 1005-OK WHERE IN GODS NAME CAN HE BE??? Surely he snuck by us and
is either in north or south terminal baggage claim and is perhaps on the
smelly GROOME shuttle headed for Macon-and I’m going to get a call from him
saying “I’m here, please come get me and take me to my family”, to which I’m
going to have to say “sure thing Lippy I will be there in an hour, by which
time he could crawl on his hands and knees to the Church and launched his
surprise offensive all by himself.
“Are you sure?” Is what Wifey said after each of my comments-
“Sugar, he has to come up the escalator from customs, to baggage claim,
“Are you sure?” She asks. My hair, what’s left of it, was coming out in
Finally maintaining my composure and dealing with the facts, we positioned
ourselves directly behind the USO kiosk, and clapped for the soldiers when
they came up the escalator-looking from our view you would see the tip of the
head first and then as the escalator kept going slowly the rest of the
persons body would come into view-and there were as many civilians coming up
that escalator as there we’re Soldiers.
One soldier came up whose wife and little baby went running over to and they
both embraced. It would have been a touching moment had half of the ladies
butt crack had not been exposed. It was a butt crack, in all honesty, that
shouldn’t ever see the light of day. Ever. Ahem.
There was another soldier whose young girlfriend came running up to and like
out of a movie, they embraced. Everyone clapped. They remained embraced. It
appeared the soldier must have been a ENT medical professional-i mention this
only because he seemed to be giving her tonsils quite the inspection. Ahem.
The heads appear a bit more frequent now. None of which are Lippy Dawg Heads.
I could pick his noggin out of times square on New Years Eve I’m convinced, I
had seen it enough-actually I had seen lots of Mike Lipper, in fact every bit
of him, but that’s another story for another day, and best told by Mike
Another text SITREP (situation report) to the team-they are on pins and
needles-i am too. In fact one couldn’t drive a ten penny nail up my behind
with a sledgehammer.
It doesn’t appear even if he shows up in the next minute that we can make it
back to Macon and the church before Sunday Services are over.
The escalator ascends. The tip of a head. The flat top haircut and baby
bottom smooth sidewalls of one Major Mike Lipper are seen. “There he is” I
tell Wifey, and we move out to greet him–finally.
Well, not so fast. The USO folks, bless their hearts, go about looking at
each soldier in the eyes and asking them if they can help them in any
fashion–Mike sees this guy before he sees me. The USO representative asks
him if there’s anything he can do for Mike, and before he can reply I say ”
NO SIR-WE GOT HIM-He’s going with us!”
He still didn’t know it was me-i wasn’t in uniform nor had he gotten my last
email telling him we would pick him up-he was now bug-eyed.
Times like this bring on the snot bubbles. It just happens.
Half laughing, half crying, he gave us a hug. This man who just a moment
before looked so weary and exhausted, was now wearing a smile that a
mortician couldn’t remove. Our demonstration was almost as good as the butt
crack lady and the tonsillectomy, even if “G” rated.
The PACKAGE was secure. The Eagle had landed.
Swiftly to baggage claim while I texted the team that we had Mike.
in no time we were at the car and southbound-now for the real issue-the
ATTACK had to commence, but where? Church? The restaurant? Back at la casa de
Lippy? I was driving 85 mph and had my blackberry in my hand trying to figure
out our next phase–it looked as if the restaurant would be the place-i sent
a quick text to the newspaper photographer and he said he would notify the
reporter. OK, our ETA about 1215 hrs I guessed. About five minutes later
Sharell called and said we have it set up here for the church–the rest of the team had been
doing an excellent job of contingency planning and although we changed the
plan it, like the Doolittle Raid, was ON! My only job was to get the package
there in one piece, no small feat when you drive like you were taught how by
a one-eyed man, which I was. Mike called his Mom and told her he was
home-she knew of the plan but only since Christmas.
Sharell and the team had it arranged and told us where to show up at the
Church-Ruth Sykes was able to teach her Sunday School class at her Church and
she too would watch this defining moment unfold for Mike and his family.
Back in Macon. The exit. Another call. All systems GO, I repeat All systems
GO! I told Wifey to prepare the cabin for landing.
We got to the church, parked right along the curb, and got out of the car. As
Wifey says, “Mike was vibrating he was so excited.”
Sharell and Dianne had worked it out so that Meg and the kids were sitting in
the main foyer of the Church with their backs to Mike-
Mike, followed by the rest of us, moved in. Meg and the kids were on the
bench, unaware. Dianne and her husband and some others had them posing for a
photograph. Little did they know what was about to happen.
Mike came up quietly from behind while they were all “cheezing” for the photo
and “cheezed” right along with them-they STILL hadn’t seen him! In another
second, Mike leans around, and kisses Meg on the cheek. She STILL is in the
“say cheese” mode for the photo, as are the kids-The “photographers” quite
naturally forcing them to maintain the pose –a perfect example of a
In another instant, Meg casually looks over her shoulder to see who gave her
the peck, and then……..
A scream. Then the sound of kids jumping on Dad, pictures being taken by the
hundred, kleenex being ripped from purses, laughter, tears, tears, and more
tears. The attack sprung right there in the Lipper’s Church and in their hometown.
The greatest operation Major Lipper ever planned. And one thousand percent
successful with many casualties, all of whom wear smiles on this Sunday
afternoon that a mortician couldn’t remove.
A soldier, friend, dad, and husband comes home. One down, a couple thousand
more to go until all the 48th is back.
Welcome Home Lippy. We missed you. And thanks again for looking out for me
that night in Iraq.