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My Hero

Every Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to thank those who bravely served to keep our Country free. My husband and I spent some time together late Monday night viewing Facebook posts together of our military family and friends; all of us reflecting on past deployments. There is something about the comaraderie developed during difficult times, yet it is good to reflect on the people who were there with us during those times. Thankful for the “battle buddies” in our lives, for the military members and families who have sacrificed so much through the years and continue to do so, and for my hero! Here’s a few photos reflecting on Chris’ deployment to Afghanistan.

A corn field.  Corn seed is spread by hand-it's not placed into the ground-so that is one project the ADT team will be working on teaching this spring.  Things such as hand-planting into the soil and hybrid corn could result in significant yield increases!  Typical ear size resulting from fields such as this is maybe a few inches long.  This is open pollinated corn.  Tall hybrid corn was introduced in some regions of Afghanistan, but the Taliban would hide in it, so a shorter hybrid was introduced in those regions of Afghanistan instead.   Photo by Chris Rees.

Chris in an open pollinated corn field. The team taught the people how to plant seed in the ground vs. scattering on the surface. The result between this and hybrid seed was larger ears with more yield in which the people brought their corn to the next Team to show them.  Photo by Chris Rees.

This photo was taken at a Women's Development Center where women and their children have a safe place to stay.  This is a greenhouse where vegetables are grown and this little boy kept picking cucumbers and giving them to the soldiers so they got a picture together.  The cucumbers were returned to the Center.  Photo via Chris Rees.

This photo was taken at a Women’s Development Center where women and their children have a safe place to stay. This is a greenhouse where vegetables are grown and this little boy kept picking cucumbers and giving them to the soldiers so they got a picture together. The cucumbers were returned to the Center. Photo via Chris Rees.

Part of the Ag team holding a banner with the NE ADT2 logo at the Demonstration farm.

Part of the Ag team holding a banner with the NE ADT2 logo at the Demonstration farm.

My soldier and me at the Boss Lift for Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Training

My soldier and me at the Boss Lift for Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Training prior to NE ADT2 deployment. It was such an honor to watch them train. So thankful for and proud of you Chris!!! You are my hero!!!

May We Never Forget 9/11/01

Video released from the Department of Defense.  With everything going on in the world, I don’t have much else to say right now…except this.  Today I’m remembering those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01 in my prayers.  I’m praying for the many military members still serving this great country away from their families today-and praying for their families serving bravely without them on the home-front.  I’m so thankful for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom.  And through everything going on right now, God is in control and has a plan and purpose for all.  May God continue to bless the U.S.A. and may we never forget 9/11/2001!

Remembering Our Fallen

Every time the Remembering Our Fallen Memorial was mentioned, I would get goose bumps.  Clay Center American Legion ready for the escort to arrive.Every time I would mention it was coming to our Clay County Fair, my eyes would moisten. 

Our Extension Office moved out to the Fair early on Wednesday so we could be ready to stand with flags while the Memorial was escorted to our Fair.  The loud roar of motorcycles approaching was soon followed by an amazing site of over 40 Patriot Riders from Omaha to Hastings escorting the Memorial to our Fair.  It was incredibly touching watching them ride in.  Local TV and newspaper crews were on hand to capture the event.  July 11th would mark 9 years since the passing of Clay County residents Jeremy Fischer and Linda Tarango-Griess due to a roadside bomb in Iraq.Over 40 Patriot Riders from Omaha to Hastings escorted the Remembering Our Fallen Memorial to the Clay County Fairgrounds.

That day I just observed the scene from a distance.  I knew I needed time alone to go through the Memorial later.  That time came Sunday morning as it was quiet at the Fair.

Over 80 service men and women from Nebraska have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  Joshua Mann was younger than me, but attended the same high school that I did.  Patrick Hamburger was in the Chinook Helicopter group that often flew into the base my husband was stationed at in Afghanistan in 2011.  Jacob Schmuecker was married to a gal I group up with in my home-town church.  I didn’t know Jeremy Fischer or Linda Tarango-Griess but many in Clay County and the area did.  Very touching to see all the Patriot Riders escort the Memorial to the fairgrounds.

This Memorial is striking and different because it’s about viewing the faces of the fallen.  There are other pictures added of their lives and people leave additional tributes at the Memorial as well.  Scanning the QR codes to watch the tribute videos and reading letters left behind by moms, spouses, relatives, friends, coaches, and fellow service-members brought me to tears.  We must never forget that freedom is not free!

A special thanks to Laurie Jarzynka and her family for organizing the honor escort and getting this Memorial at our Fair.  I will leave you with a video I captured of Jim Fischer, father of fallen soldier Jeremy Fischer, talks about his son and thanks everyone for being there.the Memorial.  May we never forget those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom and the families left behind!  God bless all our men and women in uniform and their families and God bless the U.S.A.!

Joshua Mann

Patrick Hamburger2013-07-14 19.15.422013-07-14 10.38.55

Deployment

One year.  Twelve months.  Three hundred sixty five days.  As I’ve aged, time tends to fly by faster.  As a military wife during a deployment, in many ways this has seemed like the slowest year of my life.  Yet here I stand at the dawning of the end with the realization that in some ways, the past year didn’t drag quite as much as I thought.

Looking back on this deployment I find myself remembering some not so proud moments.  There were times I was angry and perhaps a tad bitter and had a downright bad attitude…I remember telling myself “this stinks”.  I remember trying to deposit the hail insurance check written in my husband’s name early on in the deployment…trying to explain I had power of attorney and he was in Afghanistan as I then broke down in tears…it was Aug. 6, 2011, the day the Chinook helicopter went down in eastern Afghanistan and my heart was broken for the families being informed back home.  I remember the kindness of the ladies at the bank as I walked out, swallowed my pride composing myself, and walked back in.  I remember having no sense of joy as God allowed several trials into my life in a very short period of time…and while I had specifically prayed in a way for them, and while God answered that prayer in ways I never imagined possible nor ways I honestly wanted, the pain of the emotional struggle dealing with those trials with a husband half a globe away seemed overbearing at times.  Yet through it all, as I prayed for joy in the midst of them, God allowed me to find joy.  He gave me His strength, peace, comfort.  He helped me to heal and He taught me much in the process.  I can’t imagine going through a deployment or anything in life without God!  He truly is my “refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble”.

For the most part as I reflect, though, I feel I remained strong and positive.  I’m so proud of my husband and all our men and women in uniform!  I’m so proud of the military families left behind carrying the load faithfully, dutifully till their military members return.  I’m thankful for the friendships made along the way at family readiness group, yellow ribbon events, and in informal meetings with various military wives.  I’m thankful for the friendships my husband has made while overseas-friendships that will last a lifetime and that made being away from home a little easier.  I’m thankful for the positive difference my husband and his team have made in the lives of the Afghan people.  I’m thankful God gave me the opportunity to work with these ADT teams since 2008.  I’m thankful to live in the greatest Nation in the world-a free nation-and for those who continue to sacrifice to maintain our freedoms.  I’m thankful God allowed my soldier to return home and my heart aches this Memorial Day for those who aren’t so fortunate…  

As I’ve listened to my husband’s stories and viewed pictures and videos of his missions, my eyes have been opened even more how much I daily take for granted.  This deployment has once again reminded me how much I take my spouse for granted as well.  When he returns, I want to “live everyday like he’s leaving tomorrow” as this military blog post so beautifully points out.  I don’t want to take the day to day things for granted and God has also taught me much about being the wife He wants me to be through this.

I have a sticker on my truck that my husband gave me before he left.  It says, “1/2 of my heart is in Afghanistan”.  I’ve had several people tell me they tear up when they see my truck and that sticker.  The saying is true even though I’m complete in Christ.  I can’t say it hurt quite as much when he first deployed-probably because I was more mentally prepared then-but after coming home for two week leave and leaving again, I truly felt like my heart had been ripped in half.  I’m looking forward to the day when I can remove the sticker but keep it in a place I will always see it to remind me…to remind me of what it was like…to remind me to continually pray for our military and their families back here.  I’m looking forward to the day that my whole heart is back at home with me in the U.S.A.!

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