Tears were streaming down her face. Her daddy said, “What is the matter, Honey? Why are you crying?” She said, “Daddy, don’t you know?” He said, “No darling, what is it?” She pressed into his big chest and sobbed, “I don’t want you to go back!” Many of us have probably witnessed this with our own children and husbands. I was that little girl 35 years ago, telling my dad that I didn’t want him to go back to Vietnam.
Years later, tears flowed in our house when my husband, Eric, was preparing to return to Iraq after having been gone for a year. The day Eric left will always remain vivid in my mind; as moments ticked away, we videotaped Eric with the kids. They clung to him, and we said heart-wrenching things.
With this being our second yearlong deployment, we knew all too well the dangers that lay ahead. This time, though, as a battalion commander, Eric would be out daily in his HMMWV (High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) in an area that includes the town of Tarmiyah-part of the Sunni triangle. I knew all the facts and figures; how many lives the previous battalion had lost due to IEDs, the hours of casualty notification, and also that Eric’s predecessor had been targeted by the very same people he was meeting with to help democracy take hold.