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
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