Archive for the ‘Daddy’s Homecoming’ Tag

“Daddy’s Home” by George L. Fisher   8 comments


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!
George writes:
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—

“Where’s Winnie?”
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: (this is hearbreaking of a young woman grieving at her boyfriend/ husband’s grave. please view!

Navy Wife…Toughest Job in the Navy!   Leave a comment

  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!  

USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

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Info on the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) Contribution:

Other Navy Wife  related blogs to visit:

“A Soldier Comes Home” by George L. Fisher   Leave a comment


 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: 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

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
the season.
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
coordinated attack.
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.