In the summer of 2000, Rick came up to me and told me he was seriously considering joining the Army National Guard. He had been in full time Army in the 1980's,in the 325th Airborne,the only combat team stationed in Europe. He had been to many countries, and had seen combat. I was hesitant at first-it was still the military after all. He missed the military,he said,and plus, the chances were very slim of him going anywhere. It was the Guard! At most, he might help in the event of a natural disaster. I told him if it was that important to him,sure, go for it! I would support him all the way.
Well, we all know what happened next.
On Sept 11,2001, I was a store manager for a retail outlet store in MA. I was coming back from making the deposit when I heard on the radio that a plane had struck the twin towers. At the time,the theory was that it was a tragic accident. However, once I got back to the store more info started filtering in-Rick called and said there was a second plane,then the Pentagon had been hit. Later,the plane of heroes went down in a PA field.
All I wanted to do was to be with my family,but I was stuck at the store. I couldn't believe that people were still shopping. I was actually dumbfounded. I wanted to yell,"What is wrong with you people? We are under attack,thousands of people are dead,and you are shopping for underwear?! You ought to be ashamed of yourself!" I was completely disgusted,and still am,when I think about it.
That day changed my life and thought process. It just didn't seem worth it to me anymore. I was tired of having no life in retail-weekends, holidays,nights-what was the point? I had an 18 month contract,which was not up until the following September. I made up my mind then and there that once that contract was up, I was out of retail forever. I told Rick when I got home how I felt,and that I really wanted to move back to NH. He was in agreement. If I wasn't happy,there was no point.
Rick,needless to say,had a feeling that he was going to be going somewhere. We held our collective breath,waiting for the phone to ring. When it did, he was told at first that he might be going to Afghanistan. That was scary. Then, that was changed to Homeland Security at Manchester Airport in NH. That meant I had to find day care for Zach,since Rick would be up in NH. There weren't many options,and I was ready to pull the hair out of my head. About one week before he was scheduled to leave,the mission got cancelled. Another unit was going to do security at Manchester Airport. So we breathed a sigh of relief-for a while.
In 2002, we went back to NH. I became a dental hygienist assistant,and while it was OK, it wasn't really what I wanted to do. Zach was going to start school in 2003,and I really wanted to be a stay at home mom,if possible.Rick had started doing security at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant,but it was only a few months later when he got activated for Homeland Security at Pease International Tradeport. It was going to be a joint mission with the Air National Guard. At this point,we had gone into Iraq. When we went in, Rick predicted-" We are going in too fast,with not enough ground forces. The insurgents are going to come down into the towns and cities and it's going to be bad urban warfare. There is no way we are going to be greeted as liberators.You watch. All hell is going to break loose." Truer the words were never spoken.
Rick did two tours of Homeland Security,working as the armourer. He volunteered to go to Iraq several times, but was always told no, he was on this mission,and there he would stay. It did not help that the members of his unit not assigned to Homeland Security went to Iraq,guarding one of the prisons.
In Dec 2004,his last tour of Homeland Security was up,and went to work as a Correctional Officer at the County jail. We had been in our little house for about a year. He was activated for a couple of weeks in El Salvador,helping to train the El Salvadorian artillery. There were a few guys from his unit that went,quite a few of them had volunteered to go to Iraq.
Then, the phone call came that changed our lives forever.