When I was deploying to Saudi Arabia with the 82nd Airborne Division in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I thought my mom would be the one worried to death, but it was actually my dad.  “Stay in touch when you can,” he asked me.  I told him not to fret; the Army had prepared me well, and this is what I was trained to do.

My father provided me with lifelong insight into the dangers of war.  But it was tough for him, probably because he knew the ugly side of war and couldn’t imagine his little Annie going off to fight with the mighty 82nd Airborne.  He kept asking me questions and making small talk while constantly chewing on his fingernails—he was a notorious nail-biter.

How long are you going to be gone?  Where are you staying?  When will you call?  I don’t think my father was scared, but he was anxious.  The idea that I couldn’t check in regularly, as I always did, was disconcerting.  Our communication now was going to be through letters and the occasional phone call.  I told him I would touch base with him as often as I could and that as long as Craig was stateside I would have him check in as well.

He gave me advice that I have used in almost every aspect of service and personal life:

    • If you don’t think you’re the best at what you do, no one else will.
    • If winning isn’t everything, why bother playing? (Now, I never took this to mean, “Win at all costs.” I took it to mean, “Be a fighter and don’t give up on the things you believe in.”)
    • The higher up the flagpole you ascend, the more your ass is exposed. (Translation: “The higher your rank, the more visibility you and your actions receive.”)