Coming home

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James Morman
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing command chief
Recently I returned home from an AEF rotation and was amazed at the outpouring of support the American public has for our servicemen and women. I've been in the Air Force for 28 years, but this was the first time that I had ever deployed or redeployed on a commercial airline. Every other time it had been on my own aircraft with my crew. We would usually stop at Air Force bases enroute before we made our way back to home station. 

My journey started on a military contracted aircraft that had two enroute stops before I finally made it back to the Unites States. I was all ready to get out of the desert and back home to my family and friends; all decked out in my best DCU's. The first two legs of my trip were pretty much filled with watching movies and wishing the airplane would fly faster. After about 24 hours we landed at around 4:30 p.m. and all I wanted to do was find a bed and get some sleep. I checked in to my hotel and the desk clerk welcomed me home and thanked me for my service. I went upstairs and right to bed. 

The next morning, I checked in for the final leg of my trip home. While waiting to go through the security screening, two ladies in line behind me asked me if I was coming home. I replied yes, and they thanked me and told me that they were behind us. They wanted to know what it was like, were we "winning?" I told them, it was hard being away from my family, but we were winning. I made it through security and went to find a seat at my gate. At the gate there were nine more military members in DCU's waiting for the flight to Minneapolis. While waiting, an older lady came up and wanted to know if she could give me a hug. She hugged all of us and again thanked us for our service. 

I boarded the aircraft ready to go. 

While taxiing out, the captain briefed us about our flight time and landing weather. At the very end he said "We are proud to be traveling with 10 military members coming home from Southwest Asia today. I want to thank them all for protecting our freedom." 

The people in the aircraft all started to clap and thank us all. I was completely overwhelmed. 

After landing, several more people thanked me and welcomed me home, but there are two that I must tell you about. 

I bought a book to read since I had four hours before my flight home to Wichita to pass the time. While reading, I heard someone say, "Excuse me, Chief." I looked up and standing in front of me was a man dressed in a suit. He introduced himself as, "Tom, Air Force Academy, 1983." 

He thanked me for serving and for wearing my uniform. He told me the public does not know the Air Force is even fighting the war and wearing my uniform was beneficial to the Air Force. 

The last, but most touching thank you I received was while I was sitting on the floor writing down all of the support I had received on this trip home. I didn't want to forget this day. I looked up and saw an older man, in his 70s, riding the escalator. He looked at me and slowly popped me a salute, I was touched. I quickly rose and returned his salute. He then nodded and went on his way. I almost cried. 

The entire trip home not one person was rude or said anything bad to me about my uniform or the reason that I was in DCU's. I know they are out there. My dad was a Vietnam War veteran. I can remember him talking about how the people would cuss, spit and try to pick fights with servicemen coming home. I don't know how I would have reacted if someone had done something like that to me. 

Our country, for the most part is behind us, the servicemen and women. Remember when you walk out the base gate, in uniform or out, you are an ambassador of the United States Air Force and the United States of America. 

Represent us proudly, your country, and know the world is watching. Don't take this lightly!