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Of friends and family

  • Published
  • By Col. Lawrence Martin
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
Early Tuesday morning, before the sun came up, I kissed my wife as she sent a few e-mails and kissed my sons as they slept. Part of my morning routine, to be sure, but somehow this morning these simple gestures meant even more to me. 

I woke at 4:15 this cloudy morning after Memorial Day to the strident ringing of my Blackberry. The call from my wing commander counterpart at Bagram brought bittersweet news. One of our NCO's, a member of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, had been seriously injured by an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Luckily, he was alive. 

Sadly, his four brave American companions perished in the day's attack. 

I thanked my brother wing commander and asked if he needed anything. I could tell by his voice that no, there was nothing anyone else could do. He alone had to make those four much more painful calls that morning. And I had a few to make as well. 

I called our NCO's squadron commander with the news and made sure the NCO's wife would be notified quickly, and that she knew her husband was safe. 

Too often, our lives get busy. That Tuesday morning, I was getting ready to go to the gym. My wife was finishing her e-mails. 

Our kids were dreaming about what they would be doing in school or perhaps of the homework they'd forgotten. None of us gave much thought to what the others' day would bring. We were all too wrapped up in what WE would be doing. 

But quiet, powerful moments like Tuesday morning remind me about what we owe the truly important people in our lives.

 I hoped those four wingmen took the time in that last phone call or letter home to tell their spouses, their children, their parents, brother, sister, grandparents how much each meant to them, how proud each were of them, how much they loved them and that they hugged and kissed them on their last visits home. 

I hoped these airmen had let their friends know just how important that friendship was.
Our lives today are too hectic. Our go-go-go schedule often prevents us from taking the time needed to let those who support us and stand by us know just what they mean to us. 
We get sucked into the tiny, mundane details of day-to-day life and miss what truly matters. Despite our best intentions, we let our most important messages slip away for when we have "more" time. And... sadly, we never do. 

A Tuesday morning like this one reminds us to take every opportunity to do these important things now, say those precious words now and not put them off until later. A paradox of our military life filled with PCSs, TADs and TDYs often places those we know best far from where we are today. 

You know those cell phone commercials that invite you to create a circle of friends and family? Who would be in your circle? Make the time today to call them to say you care.
I did.