Category Archives: Military

Soldiering On

Yesterday, we took Son to his parental units’ alma mater. He has chosen to follow in his dad’s and his late uncle’s footsteps: joining the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. Already he has made new friends and reconnected with old ones. He has learned many traditions and aspires to be the quintessential Aggie. I have no doubts about his abilities and his aptitude. Anyone who enjoys calculus and argues physics will succeed in his chosen field. And being a member of the Corps cuts down on your laundry chores, so there’s that.

As an Aggie, I’m totally psyched to have one of my kids share in my scholastic experiences. As a mom, I’m terrified. Oh, I’m not afraid of something happening to him or of him doing some boneheaded stunt. That’s bound to happen anyway. But I do fear him growing apart from his family. I know the time will come when he makes his way in the world. I’m just hoping that happens after he graduates and goes into the military. At least I get to see him some weekends, so the loss isn’t so acute.

But today is a dark day compared to yesterday. Today, Hubby leaves for his new position in Washington, D.C. I keep telling myself it won’t be as bad as Iraq or Egypt, since we will be at least in the same country and only one time zone difference. Even after experiencing deployments before, this still leaves a hole in my heart, knowing he won’t be walking through the door to the bark of the dogs, or enjoy his video game (don’t worry, he took the console and games with him), or watch a B movie after a long day at work. My family of five is down to two for now, and it feels so lonely in this house without them.

But that’s what we do. We go on and adapt and hold down the fort until our loved ones return. I can only hope and pray that they will adapt faster than I will, because I can’t be there to help them through it. Already I am counting the days until Christmas when we can be together again, fighting over the the last of the doughnuts and waiting for dinner to be served while watching Christmas movies. Until then, I can only be there in spirit, and through Skype 🙂

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Anchors to Compasses

As some of y’all know, Eldest is serving in the US Navy. One of the things I had to get used to was dealing with the fact that she is an adult and I have no control over her wants for a tattoo. I admit it is…. difficult to untie the apron strings, and I have managed to do so. For the most part. Oh, like *I* am the only parent who has ever gone through this???

Yeah, I thought so.

Anyway, blogger friend XBradTC has a post about a Russian nuclear sub catching fire. The first thought to pop into my head was Red October. And then my friend Mark commented about reminding him of the movie Hostile Waters. And that brought to mind a survey done by USAA long ago about the best submarine movies of all time. I have told y’all how my mind wanders from one thought to another on skewed lines. This isn’t news. And I began to recall my favorites.

the-hunt-for-red-october

Das Boot is by far my favorite. I fell in love with Jurgen Prochnow watching his portrayal of Capt. Willenbrock (not his name in the movie but the real life character on which it’s based) dealing with the immense claustrophobic conditions and the grittiness contained in that sardine can. He broke my heart in Beverly Hills Cop II but I soon forgave him. The movie gave us a slice of that unforgiving life served raw and rotted. And the look on his face as he dies in the air attack has never been equaled.

In not-too-distant second place it’s Gray Lady Down.

Two words: Charlton Heston.

Sure, you have Stacy Keach and Keith Carradine and even Christopher Reeve. But none of them come close to Heston. NONE!! As captain of the “Gray Lady” he balances hope against certain death masterfully. And Carradine’s act of ultimate sacrifice makes me cry every single time.

I think the first submarine movie I ever watched was my third place contender, The Enemy Below. It was dubbed in Spanish, and let me tell you, the guy who dubbed Robert Mitchum’s voice didn’t even come close to doing him justice. Technically, the submarine was not the protagonist in this movie. But the cat-and-mouse plot between Capt. Murrell and Capt. Von Stolberg brings you to the edge of your seat, and you can’t help but admire the German’s brilliance.

Tied for third place is the film that got me thinking about all of this in the first place. The Hunt for Red October had everything you could want in a movie: mystery, subterfuge, action, drama, humor, frivolity, major eye candy (don’t judge me), and even a touch of romance. Oh, not the “chick flick” type of romance, but rather romance in the simplicity of Capt. Borodin’s wishes to live in Montana. Respect for each other is definitely earned by all of the characters as the leadership of the Russian sub lies to its crew in its fight for survival on both sides of the ocean.

Last but not least, I have to say the “guilty pleasure” addition to my list is Down Periscope.  Though the entire scenario requires a complete and thorough suspension of disbelief, it’s still manages to instill good lessons in raising morale and dealing with the worst hand ever dealt. Kelsey Grammer’s portrayal of Commander Dodge is beyond hilarious, from deadpan to outrage to outrageous. Forcing the XO to walk the plank was hilarious. Christening the Stingray as the U.S.S. Rustoleum was genius.

Well, now I am feeling nostalgic. I may dig up my VHS copy of Red October from the bins upstairs. Yes, I still have VHS, and that cassette is rather special, since it’s red instead of the conventional black. Besides, one can never have too much of Sean Connery 😉


Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

Yesterday I was doing some grocery shopping. Kids were complaining of a decided lack of sustenance in the pantry, mainly junkfood. I was complaining of a decided laziness in their bones that prevented them from actually cooking what was available. But I was running very low on coffee and creamer and decided my needs outweighed my crankiness, so off I went to Walmart. Why there? because I didn’t feel like putting on make-up, ok??

Anyway, I got some general school supplies, some new anti-wrinkle cream, just random crap. Eventually I make it to the coffee aisle, whereupon I begin to make my selections: Donut House coffee and some hazelnut cappuccino for Eldest. Standing in front of the vast selection of K-cup coffee is an older couple, looking a bit dazed and confused. Having been in a similar circumstance when I first got my Keurig™, I decided to offer any help in picking out coffee. I’m not a connoisseur by any means, but I figured I knew a bit more than they did. I asked them if they needed any help, and the gentleman turned to me to thank me and asked me for advice.

That’s when I noticed his cap. He was a Marine, and had served in WWII and Korea. He was a little stooped, but when I asked him about his service he stood a little more straight as he spoke of his time in the Marines. He never spoke of the gore and the violence, though. He talked about the field, and his friends, and how even now he sometimes put coffee grinds between his gum and cheek so he wouldn’t wake his wife by using the coffeemaker. He talked about how the only fights he had were over who got the first cup of joe before patrol (first one done, was first one out on patrol). Coffee, he said, kept him sane and kept his world going. As I shook his hand to wish him well, he noticed my Aggie ring. He asked what class I was, and then proceeded to tell me of the Aggies he knew from his time in service: the Aggie who rescued cattle at the expense of a truck’s tires; the Aggie who made pigeon stew; the Aggie who sang before battle. He told me that every Aggie he knew was made from something he could never define, but that was easily recognizable. I told him I felt the same way about my Marine friends. He laughed and told me I was probably right. As I thanked him for his service, he asked me to thank my husband for his. When I asked him how he knew my husband was in the service, he pointed to my purse: Hubby’s Purple Heart, which I always carry with me, was sticking out. I laughed and thanked them both for a lovely time spent in the coffee aisle. They waved and wished me a good day.

In truth the medal could have been my dad’s or my brother’s or mine. But he is a gentleman of another era who learned that only men go into combat. His memories will soon leave us without record but that of what he chooses to leave behind. In that moment, I felt very small. I had been in the presence of greatness by virtue of history. I pray his story is told for a long time, and that children learn good things from it, like the reason those men fought over a cup of coffee.


To Those Who Served

A profound and heartfelt thanks.

thank you vets

For my husband, and my brothers-in-law, my neighbors, and my friends.

And for my brother Draco, who never failed to call and thank all of those he knew.

We can never repay what you have sacrificed for your country.


The Eagle Has Landed

Today is the day my husband gets his Eagles.

colonel eagle

He has worked hard, and achieved more than most. His dedication to the U.S. Army and his department is deep, committed, and unquestioned, just as it is with his family. And his loyalty extends to all, regardless of rank or affiliation. He is a true soldier.

My heart swells with pride, knowing he has reached another milestone in his career. His peers and superiors have expressed not just their congratulations, but also the hope and desire that he continue in this path towards the next level. And that is achievement indeed.


On This Memorial Day

For me, it is one of the saddest holidays, and yet it is also filled with joy, knowing that such courage exists, and such sacrifices are made in defense of freedom.

The Wall Boots

I give thanks to all the men and women who paid the ultimate price so that I could speak, and worship, and complain, and demonstrate. And to do so in English.

May they never be forgotten, nor their sacrifices be in vain.


Happy 237th Birthday, U.S. Army!!

On this day, in 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress appealed to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to assume authority for the New England army, because as we all know, THE BRITISH WERE COMING!!! (I hope my friend Katie has a good laugh!) So, allegedly at the behest of John Adams, Congress voted to take the NE Army and conscript it for use in all colonies (though no written record exists for that vote). However, they did vote to “to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army,” thus, the birth of our U. S. Army.

Being an Army wife, I am partial to this military birthday, for it is two-fold.

Today is also Flag Day!! On this day, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution of 1777, which officially adopted the flag of our new found country.

When I arrived in Texas, it was the summer of 1976. Everything was red, white, and blue, and I thought this was the most color-coordinated country in the world. My dad explained that we were celebrating a very important birthday, and so began my love affair with History.

Long may she wave!!!

Crossposted everywhere I’m at 😉


68 Years Ago Today

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!–
Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 6, 1944

I regret never taking the opportunity to visit Normandy while stationed in Germany. I did get to visit the  Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Hamm in Luxembourg. The cemetery was established in December, 1944, by the U.S. Third Army during the Ardennes Offensive. General George S. Patton is buried there. Walking alongside the crosses, listening to the beauty, it felt as if Time was waiting for something. I think it still is.

These men had their victory. I pray we have in our spirit the same abilities to achieve our own.


Mother’s Pride

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day here at Casa de Aggie. Both Eldest and Son were promoted in rank in AFJROTC. Getting promoted is a big deal in itself, but on top of that, Eldest made the rank of Cadet Captain as a junior, and Son was promoted two ranks for his service, from Cadet to Airman First Class.

They worked hard and are very involved in ROTC, and I’m proud to say they are fine examples of the program at our school. What they learn will help them achieve success in their future, no matter what path they take.

If only they would work half as hard on their rooms. That would be awesome!!


At Dawn We Slept

Seventy years ago today, what was then the Empire of Japan attacked our Naval base at Pearl Harbor, waking us up to the reality that isolationism was no longer an option. In all, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. The largest casualties were borne by the U.S.S. Arizona, which lost 1,177 Americans.

With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounded determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God. — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Oil still weeps like tears on the water, and I am reminded to keep an eternal vigilance against all enemies, those that shout, and those who keep their silence as they plot to strike against us.