Saturday, February 19, 2011


It's November 9, 2009.  Mike and Teri Waggoner and their three daughters, Melissa, Tiffany and Morgan, have just arrived at the Lincoln, Nebraska home of Teri's sister, Sgt. Tami Nordman.  This has been a day the Waggoner's have looked forward to, seeing Sgt. Nordman return home on  leave from Iraq after a six month deployment.  After the initial bear hugs of love, the thoughts turn to the "how are you's" and "I can't believe your back" mode.  Mike's cellphone ringing interrupts much of the chatter that is going on.  The conversation is short and pretty one-sided.....

As he puts the phone down, he turns to his wife as Staff Sgt. Mike Waggoner and tells her, "well, I guess the rumors are true".  On the other end of the line was his commander out of Oskaloosa telling him that he was to receive his order to deploy to Afghanistan in July of the following year.    This was a stunning but not fully unexpected call.  His response said that.  Staff Sgt. Waggoner began to think of a million different thoughts, but not for long.  His wife's cellphone rings.  Her call seems eerily the same.  As she puts the phone down, she turns to her husband as Sgt. Teri Waggoner with news that she too has received her orders for deployment.   Now what, they both think?

The remainder of the weekend for the Waggoners in Nebraska was a blur.  Mike felt it gave both he Teri an opportunity to be around family and not focus much on the news they'd just received, no matter how difficult that might have been.   It's hard to imagine both husband and wife receiving orders within minutes of each other to deploy.   I'd be surprised if anyone else can top that "deployment news" experience.  Perhaps that's a story in itself.  "Try And Top How I Was Notified For My Deployment". 

After returning from Nebraska, the Waggoners turned to the matter at hand.  How were they going to make this work for their family?  "Where would the girls go, would they go stay with their grandparents?  All sorts of thoughts were racing through our minds",  Mike said.  Then  four weeks later some other news came. This time of a much different variety. 

During Staff Sgt. Mike Waggoner's monthly weekend work in Oskaloosa came word that someone else would be taking his place on the call up list.  Waggoner, who was scheduled for his 20-year retirement in  January in 2011, would stay home.  His back-up would go instead.  The strategy needed to be altered, now, at least one of them would be home for the girls.  For Mike and Teri, for the girls, for relatives, for friends and  for church family it meant they could work towards providing some sort of normalcy.  So for roughly the next six months they planned as much as possible.

Mike's full time job as a bus driver for the Johnston School District meant travel to and from school for Melissa, Tiffany and Morgan in Ankeny would be of the greatest concern.  Once that was addresesed, then extra-curricular events needed to be considered.  Melissa wanted to play volleyball and Tiffany had sights on honor choir.  One by one,  tasks were "game planned".  But quickly the date for Teri's departure grew close.  July 30th was here before they knew it.        

(L to R) Tiffany, Morgan, Sgt. Teri, Melissa and Mike prior to the Storm Lake departure
Storm Lake was one of several locations in Iowa where Iowa Guard troop sendoffs were being held around the state on that rainy July day.  Friends, co-workers and relatives were on hand to support each other and Sgt. Teri Waggoner at the celebration event.  After a short ceremony of recognition of the troops there was time allotted for "last goodbye's" and hugs.   Many families took this time for last minute group and individual photos.  And then the troops began to board the buses and they headed out soon thereafter.

"That's when I went kind of numb", Mike reflected.  "It felt real but not with alot of certainty.  There were alot of tears, me, the girls, everyone."  To help ease as much of the pain as possible, a good part of the Waggoner clan went out to eat at a Storm Lake restaurant.  Hours later, Mike and his three daughters arrived home.  Drained.  The journey had begun, ready or not......


School begins, Holidays, And More......


  1. A lot of tears were shed that day. Nice article John,
    Grampa Waggoner

  2. This was a hard day for all... my brother is doing amazingly well and I am very proud of him and my neices for their strength!

    Aunt Cheri

  3. Our families lives have gone down the same paths so many times! I am very proud of both of our husbands. I will always look up to, & we have so much to share & in common when you get home!
    John, Thank You so much for this article, it shows a whole other side, that most people don't see. As a soldier who has deployed & as the wife of a deployed soldier, this is greatly appreciated by all of my family & Teri's!
    SGT Tami Nordman

  4. Time is flying by and soon it will be July. We have enjoyed hosting the girls on some of your drill weekends. As usual, let us know if we can do anything. Rebecca talks about the girls everyday.

    Bill Roland

  5. Time has flown by so quickly. I can not wait to see you! This story was awesome. It made me cry. Thank you John for posting this about Mike & Teri and the girls. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are going up everyday for the family. We love and miss you lots. Stay safe Teri and we will see you soon!
    The Maples Family