Monday, January 31, 2011


Yesterday morning we saw our son, Kristopher, off at Des Moines International as his 15-day leave concluded and he began his long journey back to Afghanistan.  I must say, this time was a whole lot different than when his deployment began from Boone, Iowa on July 30th.  At the summer send-off, we were surrounded by hundreds of other families all experiencing much the same as us.  There were tears, red faces and a quite a bit of sobbing.  Yesterday, there were two soldiers leaving from Gate C-1 and we were the only family present to say good-bye.  There were moist eyes, a bunch of uncertainty, but no where near the same least outwardly that is.  And the funny thing is.....I'm not sure why.

I'll let you in on a few things I think might be causing this "flat" response because somewhere among them is no doubt the answer.  First off, it wouldn't have taken much for someone to see that our soldier wanted to be home and then again, he didn't.  I'll bet he dreamed of  getting back to seeing his friends, his car, his new motorcycle and the aspect of "home".  But the other part of home, the one that meant involved conversations, connecting on a deep, personal level or one that dug deeper into his attachment of the surroundings of his family....hmmmmmmmm  PN.

 I asked Kris what was the thing that he thought of most when he was on the 5-day airplane trip headed to Des Moines.  "Home", he said.  That shocked me, really, because that is not what I saw.  We asked two things of him while he was with us.  A lunch with his grandparents and a videotaping at our church....that's it.  The remaining time was all his.  He could do anything he wanted.  What my wife and I saw, or thought we saw, was a soldier who didn't want to get to close to anything while he was home for fear.......

In a light moment before leave ends...
Five and a half months remain on Kris's deployment.  I think that's what many soldiers think about when they come home on leave, the time that's remaining.  Makes me wonder if they come home, try and put on a good face, show everyone that they're the same "old" person, when in fact, they're not.  And we're not.  Most parents, spouses, siblings or grandparents could easily see themselves smothering a soldier with love during their leave.  However, even though that's exactly what a soldier would like too, I'm slowly convincing myself that defense mechanisms override and walls go up.  Kind of like, I would like that affection, but then I don't.  Kris texted his mom and I while he was awaiting his international flight at the Atlanta airport yesterday evening that he was having a hard time expressing his feelings regarding leave.  He did Facebook some thoughts though.  "Atlanta sucks.  I wish I as either back home or in Afghanistan", he said.  As much as that seems odd, I think the thought is, "no limbo, please".  Either get me back home or back to work.  So, you can see the thoughts are kicking in.  And I'll bet he's still processing today as he nears his landing in Kuwait.

So, I have mixed feelings, for sure about "leave".  On one hand, it's great to be able to touch and hug a person again that means so much to you.  On the other, you know you have to release them to go back to a war zone for another half-year.  One family that I've met through this deployment process has a soldier coming home in June for leave.  Let's see, 15-day leave, then back to Afghanistan for three weeks and then back home.  Now that will be tough!!.  I've been told that with the number of troops deployed, the only way everyone could get leave was to space it out.  Thus, some got real early leaves and others way late. With 3,5000 troops, I'm sure scheduling leaves is a nightmare in itself.

More than anything....everyone's experiences will be unique when their soldier comes home for leave.  Don't be too high or too low in your expectations.  Perhaps the best thing you can do, is just be there for them.  You can always process the moments later, just like we are.  There are roughly 181 days left....that will sure allow some time for you and I and our soldiers to process over and over.   God bless us all with that.


Last Friday I found out Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be leaving the military and embarking on a life in the private or voluntary sector.  I wish him the best in his search and path that is laid before him.  In discussions with his mother, Rosemary, it would appear the Staff Sgt. has a desire in continuing to "make a difference".   God Bless you Staff Sgt. Giunta and your wife as well.


"My Father's Voice" turned three months old this past week.  During this period I've posted over 40 entries into the blog.  The feedback has been tremendous and the "viewings" from around the world have been inspirational to say the least.  Fifteen different countries have hit on the blog.  They are:  the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Croatia, Germany, Singapore, Afghanistan, Denmark, India, Iraq, Malaysia and Indonesia.  I can't thank each and everyone of you enough.  Keep coming back and if you have story ideas, let me know.


Lastly, should you want to comment about any post that I've blogged, please feel free to jump aboard.  I will respond to each and every comment, either through the comment box or, if it is of a personal nature, I will connect through email or some other social media.  Thanks again!!!




  1. No need to respond-thanks for blogging, it helps in a lot of ways. Ed N

  2. I love you guys dad... i kno it wasnt what you expected when i came home but your right.. i think you kno somewhat of how i feel. Either way thank you for everything. Ill see you all in 5 and a half months....
    Your son,

  3. John,
    I have been reading your posts since I added you as a friend. Thought you might like to know my leave has been changed to March now. So I won't be coming home then back for three weeks then back to afghanistan again. Thanks for everything. Sgt. Teri Waggoner

  4. Awesome postings.. Our soldiers know leave is only for a short period of time, then back to the war zone.. In our hearts, as parents, we just want them to know how much we love and miss them...