Readers Beware: This is a look into my life that few have ever seen or even know about. If you are shocked by what you will learn, just know that I have come far since then, but the reasons I am writing about it now are all personal. It’s not for attention or pity, I am not accepting any of that. I am who I am today because of the things that have happened in my life.
I was ironing my uniform getting ready to head to the base for the day when he called me from work (he was still working night shift). He informed me that the base had been locked down, no one could come in to work or leave… and to turn on the news.
I flipped on the television just in time to see the second plane collide with the Twin Towers. People were screaming and running, smoke was billowing… my iron sat smoking on my sleeve as shock spread over me. The phone rang jolting me out of my daze but as I listened to my supervisor tell me that they believed San Francisco was also on the target list, fear spread over my limbs. Yes, I was active duty military, but my husband and I had a daughter to protect. What would happen if we both had to run out the door in a few hours?
I went and pushed her bedroom door open quietly only to find she was standing in her crib. When she spotted me she began to dance and babble her excitement to see me. I held her for hours that morning as I watched the news. The news had taken over every station on the television yet they really were not reporting anything. No one knew what was going on.
Reports were coming in from the Pentagon after its attack. The towers began to collapse in New York, and the other plane crashed into the field in Pennsylvania. The world was in shock. President Bush cried as he spoke of the terror that was being thrown on thousands of innocent people. I will never forget his face that day. The sadness that consumed his eyes as he addressed the nation.
When he was finally allowed to leave the base, he only came home long enough to pack his things. He was being deployed immediately. He didn’t know where he was going. He left the next morning, no address, no phone number, no way to be contacted. His sister was living with us to help with Hailey during the day while I was at work. Work became crazy for me as well. It took nearly 2 hours to get on the base in the morning because of added security. We were not allowed to wear our uniforms off base because it made us a target. The work day became 12 hour shifts to cover for all of our deployed troops and our new completely stacked mission list.
12 hour days on the flight line with commuting time, tool box time, and shift change time easily turned into 16 hour days 7 days a week. Hailey went to 3 different babysitters on some days because no one could watch her for that long. Not even his sister. Hailey became distant from me. I only saw her when I would come home from work late in the evening after she was sleeping. I would rub her back and wonder how things could change so quickly.
I walked around in my off time with the phone stuck to my hand in case he called. I had no idea where in the world he was and I was terrified to miss his phone call. It was 3 weeks before he called. When he did it was just long enough to give me an address and say he loved us. The phone went dead in my hand, and I cried. Only 20 years old, thousands of miles from family, a daughter I never saw, a husband across an ocean, a job that was demanding more energy from me daily, and a hatred for the people responsible for this whole mess.