Remembering the Warfighter and his or her family members

  • Published
  • By Sharon Hamilton
  • Director, Aerospace Sustainment Directorate, Ogden Air Logistics Complex
I am often asked where I get my passion from. And I answer, "I remember the Warfighters and their families." I then tell them my experience in life that emphasizes my commitment to doing the job at hand the absolute very best I can.

First, I tell them is that I am a wife of a retired Airman, and that I experienced 8 months of separation from my husband when he supported Operation Desert Storm.

This was the absolute worst eight months of my life. Given the news of the United States preparation and impending declaration of war, my husband expected to be deployed since he worked in the former 2952nd Combat Logistics Support Squadron. In August 1990, he received a recall phone call; however, he quickly said goodbye, since he believed it was an exercise to determine how quickly they could assemble for deployment. Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw him until March 1991.

Once he had deployed, the first piece of correspondence I received was a letter with his Will and Testament enclosed. The wives and husbands of the deployed members were assembled by the commander at the time, but we were told very little, as their deployment was to be kept secret. This resulted in no community support; additionally we were not told, nor could my husband tell me, where he was deployed or for how long. I was also told I could not share any information with friends or family; it was understood they were going in harm's way.

I was attending the University of Utah finishing my last year of school, working part time at Ogden Air Logistics Center as a Cooperative or "Coop" student, and raising my daughter, age 7, and son, 13 months. Our only form of communication was snail mail and a weekly telephone call that was restricted to no more than 10 minutes. And the only remnant of information on the status of the war was provided through watching CNN or reading the newspaper.

I was scared to death that I would never see my husband again with the talk and threats of chemical warfare and SCUD missiles and prayed every day that he would return safely. We took one day at a time and we eventually got through it. When my husband finally came home, the feeling was of pure elation.

So when I see the listing of warfighters who have lost their lives on the Sunday weekly programs or in the newspaper, it hits very close to home, as I could have been one of those wives. I would not wish this type of pain on my worst enemy.

With this in mind, I don't forget what I lived through and continue to count my blessings. And when faced with issues in my life, I quickly remember to put my concerns or trials into the appropriate perspective.

So why is this important? It is important because we often forget that everything we do here at this Air Logistics Complex -- no matter the position -- has a direct or indirect impact on the Warfighters' lives. We shouldn't forget how important our job is. If we can ensure a quality repair, or part is on the shelf, or a new capability is fielded with the appropriate maintenance and support chain, that means a mission-ready weapon system, which could then support the Area of Responsibility (AOR) and the Warfighter, often time saving lives. Sometimes I think some of us get caught up in the day-to-day task at hand, and often forget how important our jobs are and how they affect the Warfighter. I choose not to, hence my passion.

I realize with the current fiscal environment and looming possibility of a furlough that we may get caught up in the impacts close to home, and that is okay; however, we need to be resilient as individuals and as an organization. We need to have pride in what we have accomplished and continue to strive for greatness as each improvement or action that you make is extremely important in the defense of our nation, but more importantly, the Warfighter and his or her family members and their lives.