Farewell Fatigue: CW4 Dave Higginbotham

Because he had to fly another aircraft back to Yuma after our Christmas break, Bert asked that I post an entry describing my thoughts on our departure ceremony.

I think I speak for many of us when I say we're beginning to experience Farewell Fatigue. It seems we've been saying goodbye for months, and many of us simply want to get down to business. The sooner we start, the sooner we're working on being finished.

Like most of us, I started saying goodbye in September. Those goodbyes were to my colleagues at the Federal Aviation Administration, my normal full-time employer. As a single dad, that was immediately followed by a few weeks of hurried packing and moving out of my apartment, then goodbye to my children.

For many of us, we had a surprise opportunity to visit home in early November on our first trip cross-country with the helicopters, when the weather foiled our plans. Then it was a quick goodbye again before we continued on our way.

Many of us got to visit family or friends over Thanksgiving, either by traveling home or having family join us in Yuma, Phoenix or Las Vegas. More good-byes.

Our extended visit home over the holidays was bittersweet. While I know we all enjoyed the time with our families, it was tempered with the knowledge that soon we were leaving. We returned to Sandston on January 3rd for some weapons training, then again on the 4th for our official departure ceremony.

I understand the need for rituals. The rituals of our daily lives are what provide comfort and stability and mark the passage of time: Birthdays, weddings, vacations and going-away parties. I know that the departure ceremony, our Big Goodbye, graciously hosted by our Air National Guard brethren of the 192nd Fighter Wing, was a comfort and sad celebration for our family members. But while our families were listening to the invited speakers, I think most of us were silently wishing we had snuck out the night before.

And even the Big Goodbye was anti-climatic. We're only going back to Fort Dix for some make-up weapons qualification, then on to Yuma to wrap up a few loose ends. We'll be in touch by cell-phone every night.

So we have a few more weeks of goodbye.

When we showed up in October, I was convinced we were ready to go overseas right away. But our weeks of training have sharpened the edge and built on our confidence. Our leaders say morale is high, but more importantly, our camaraderie is extraordinary. We have bonded through the shared adversity.

To our families and loved ones, we love you more than words can describe, and we miss you already, cell phones notwithstanding. We're ready, and we're damn good at what we do.

But mostly we're ready to get to the other end of this thrilling, sad adventure, and start saying hello again.

We'll see you soon.

-- CW4 Dave Higginbotham

By Bert Stover |  January 12, 2006; 9:32 AM ET  | Category:  Departure
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Higgi...WOW that was great. Couldn;t have said it better myself. I don't make it a habit to respond to blogs but I had to on this one. I hear what you are saying. Let's get this show on the road! Yes, you are correct in saying that you ALL are damn good at what you do!!! I take great pride in being and American soldiers wife and say to you all "Let's Roll!" Thank you all so very much for what you are doing. Take care of yourselves over there and know that we are all praying for each and everyone of you every day!

Much Love and Support from a Pilots Wife

Posted by: AV8TRWF | January 12, 2006 10:14 PM

Very well written, Dave. Not to knock your buddy, but you should be the one writing this blog.
I can understand how you guys must feel. Enough of the practice, just get in the game, especially when you are as good, or even better than I remember.
Damn, I have been gone for a while.
Congrats on CW4, when ever that happened.
Best of luck,

Posted by: Craig Pino | January 14, 2006 09:19 PM

I would like to wish Cheif Higginbotham well on his tour and pray the Lord will be with him and his family. 20 years in the Army...I can relate to being deployed sometimes at a moments notice and other times as you were. I think it's sometimes better to just get notified and deploy. Tell all of the brothers in arms that they haven't been forgotten, we're praying for all of you and wish you all a safe return when the J.O.B. is finished! Tom357 Freedom

Posted by: thomasm615@msn.com | January 15, 2006 02:28 PM


All of us in AIR-200 (FAA) miss you and think about you everyday. We know you will serve us proud and we can't wait for your safe return. It is NOT the same around here without your "optimistic" energy and "PATRIOTISM". May God Bless you and ALL of our GREAT troops!

Posted by: Alan Higgs | January 17, 2006 08:24 AM

Excellently stated. As a recentlty retired FAA'er (AFS) and CW4 I wish you and your companions God-speed and safe return. God bless you and all those in uniform and your families.

Posted by: Bill Wallace | January 17, 2006 11:54 AM

cut all the BS, screw the BS ROE, and just do it........kill them all and let God sort'um out..or THEY are gonna get you and I don't want that to happen.....

Posted by: saber7cav | January 17, 2006 01:35 PM

very well written. not bad for a stand in. here is wishing you that the goodbyes are not too much longer. that you can get over there and back to your family safe. i have been the other 1/2 of an army air national guard soldier for 13 yrs. and i can undrestand how the goodbyes can get kind of old. good health, stay safe, and watch out for the other guys and gals. god speed and god bless american and its soldiers. my thoughts and prayer are with you all.

Posted by: s.e. in mn. | January 18, 2006 12:03 PM

Higgi...how the hell are you ?
Nice writting,You boys stay tight,this won't be R&R like vacation in Bolivia.

Posted by: Bruce M. | January 18, 2006 05:54 PM


Clearly understand about all the goodbyes, hoever it is nothing your family will get accustom to, as warriors we understand the clear and present danger and only pray that you and your crew goes as a unit and return as a unit, from one war dog to another war dog, take care and be safe, we will be praying for all of you. Savoy7, out.

Posted by: J. Nelson,CSM Retired 325 Inf. Regt. | January 19, 2006 02:50 PM

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep. -----Robert Frost

Never rode a bird in ETO and Korea, always walked but thoughts and prayers go out to you and your comrades until you return safely home.

Posted by: john7cav | January 19, 2006 08:30 PM


Very good blogg -- entertaining and true to life. I specially liked the "Death by PowerPoint" and people standing up in the back of the room to keep awake. Yes, the goodbyes seem to go on forever; however, I assume the families are glad to see you whenever they can. Best of luck downrange. I would like to coorespond to anyone in your unit -- maybe someone who is a QM or Maintenance troop (my background is Supply Office, Munition Supply Officer, Logistics Specialist (in AF that is war plans, support agreements, and mobility/deployment).
Keep well and good luck.

Posted by: Debbie Winder, Capt, USAF (ret) | January 20, 2006 03:55 AM

Hope your are keeping a journal to turn into a book. You have the talent.
We continue to be so proud of you and keep you in our prayers. Be safe and thank you for taking care of us.

Posted by: A. Phaneuf | January 21, 2006 09:55 AM

...seeing how the "goodbyes" are getting too much, I will say - See you all very soon! You will do great and it is amazing to read of your experiences! Hello to the Commander (my friend who I am so proud of)!

See you all soon.


Posted by: CW3 Gordon Cimoli | January 25, 2006 02:08 PM

I said my goodbye's as a young Marine. I also spent 25 years as a cold war civil servant. I truly understand the goodbyes.
Every blogg I read has a generation saying goodbye some for eternity. When will the goodbyes end?
Take care and good luck. Old.gov

Posted by: old.gov | January 26, 2006 11:34 AM


I am your brother Al's nephew in law, just wishing you good luck. I went to Iraq last year, and I can't think of any better way to describe the feelings that you did. You'll be home before you know it, again good luck and God bless.

Dave O'Brien

Posted by: ET3 O'Brien, USN | January 28, 2006 10:57 AM


Tell everyone to keep their heads down.
We are thinking about you'all all the time.

Posted by: ET | February 1, 2006 03:16 PM

Well Said, rarely is something written by someone from the FAA that made as much sense as your blog. See you guys when you get back, I hope to make it back to AASF RIC.

Former Choker
CPT Nuke

Posted by: Nuke | February 9, 2006 09:34 PM

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