What would summer be without a family picnic? For us, family in Colorado means friends, and especially those friends in the 302nd Airlift Wing at Petersen Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. After serving 15 years with the 302nd, flying missions in and out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and various other parts of the world, they are Danny’s brothers and sisters. They came through for us on numerous occasions while Danny battled cancer – from visits in the hospital or our home, home-cooked meals, helping with chores and even financial donations to just daily support and encouragement. They are our family. So, we were excited to attend the Annual 302nd Family Day picnic this month, which also marks Danny’s official return to his squadron after two and a half years!
There was BBQ, beer, Culver’s Frozen Custard (thank you, Culver’s!), snocones, bouncy castles, balloons, music and games for an entire afternoon, and it seemed Reagan was ready to stay until the last bouncy castle was deflated. The poor balloon guy must have inflated hundreds of balloons that day, several over and over again for the same children like mine. Reagan was so proud as she skipped off with her red balloon, only to watch it float off into the clouds a few minutes later. She pleaded with me to go after it, pointing to the sky as her eyes filled with tears. My solution? Get another one! Ten minutes later, tears again. I could see this was not going to work. On her third visit, I think the balloon guy figured the same, and gave my daughter a balloon animal instead. When the balloon animal died, we had snocones. And all was right with the world again.
It’s hard to say which activity was Reagan’s favorite, but she sure did love getting the princess treatment from our friend, Moose, who brought his mules for hayrides around the park. Reagan got to sit up front, hold onto the reigns and bark orders at the mules (something she’s good at).
That evening we joined several others for a gathering at one of Danny’s friends’ houses. More food, more beer and more good times. The best part, was how many other kids Reagan’s age there were for her to play with, all between the ages of three and four years old. Deployment babies– conceived either before, during (on R&R) or after the 302nd’s deployment to Qatar in 2005-2006. We pondered on whether the Iraq/Afghanistan war could be bringing us our next baby boom generation and how big would it be? And now these families were preparing for another deployment to Qatar in a few weeks. I can’t say I wasn’t secretly happy that Danny wouldn’t be going this time. His medical status doesn’t allow him to fly for the Air Force for another three years, and until then, he has no chance of being deployed. After two deployments in the first five years we were married, the first immediately following our honeymoon, the second during my pregnancy, I’m selfishly happy to have him home with us now, and proud of his service when our country needed him.
We’ll be praying for our friends – our family – as they enter their next deployment to the Middle East again. May God Bless you all and keep you safe!