A little over two weeks ago we sent Rob off for his first deployment. Rob flies helicopters for the Alabama National Guard and they are being deployed for about a year. The unit put together an amazing send off weekend that was both emotional and impressive.
Our families gathered Saturday afternoon and drove Rob to the unit in our town. They had a formal ceremony where several Majors spoke about their bravery and the difficult tasks ahead of them. Surprisingly, I made it through the whole entire day without tears, although singing the National Anthem almost got me.
After the ceremony, we walked around the hanger and explored inside one of the Chinook helicopters. Everyone in his unit was able to meet Maxwell and he was passed around quite a bit. That evening we all went out to dinner at a very special restaurant to both families. Rob said his goodbye's to my family and we went home for our last night in our home together until 2015.
The next morning we drove out to the hanger where they would fly out from. Both of our parents were there and we all just stood around the helicopter Rob would be flying that day. The guys had a quick pow-wow and then were told they needed to be in their helicopters. That's when it got hard. Watching Rob say goodbye to his Mom and Dad, my mom and then Max. It broke my heart to think about everything he will miss seeing first person. We hugged goodbye and then the families had to walk back towards the hanger for them to take off.
I had never seen Rob start up his helicopter or take off, so I was pretty impressed with the rest of the send off. It took about 20 minutes of them checking things off and starting up their blades. Then one by one the helicopters went off and then we realized they were coming back for a fly over. I couldn't stop smiling as they flew over. As sad as I am that 70 men will be away from their families for a year, I'm proud to know there are men and families that are willing to sacrifice for our freedom. I've never understood that sacrifice until now and on days I'm having a hard time I think about how proud I am of my husband and all the men in the armed forces.
Rob will be stationed in Texas for a few months and just before the unit goes "in country" we will get four days together. I am so excited to see him and be together again before the long 10 month haul.