Free Plane Ticket Brings Soldier Home
June 12, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL -- A lifelong friendship has led to a marriage of blessings for Christi Moore and her Soldier husband, Maj. Brian Moore.
And a free airplane ticket through Operation Homefront courtesy of SAIC made it possible for this military couple to spend the Memorial Day weekend together with their children, and for Brian to extend his time at home in Lacey's Spring after his wife had to undergo an emergency procedure.
The times that Christi and Brian share together are few. They joke that their time away from each other actually still makes them a newlywed couple even though they've been married for more than a year.
"The longest we've been together is 12 days for our honeymoon," Christi said. "This time, because of my procedure, he will have been home 15 days. That's the longest we've been together."
Their separation is due to career and family obligations.
Brian is assigned as the watch officer/officer-in-charge at 1st Army headquarters at Rock Island, Illinois.
"It's the nerve cell. Anything and everything that comes through 1st Army goes through headquarters," he said. "Our mission is training National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, and ensuring they get to and from deployments. We train and mentor these Soldiers, and make sure they get to theater and, when they return, getting them all the demobilization training they need."
Christi has worked since 2008 as the air worthiness release document support coordinator for Utility Helicopters, Program Executive Office for Aviation. Besides her career, Christi is also focused on maintaining their home and caring for her 6-year-old daughter Erin.
"He has always said he would get back home, but it just hasn't happened. And because of my job and Erin, I couldn't move," Christi said.
"I've been a geographically separated Soldier since 2005. Since then, I haven't been with my family for any sustained amount of time either because of a deployment or because I've been stationed somewhere else," Brian said.
Christi is a member of the Hearts Apart program coordinated by Mary Breeden at Army Community Service for families who are geographically separated from their service member. In April, she learned about an Operation Homefront program providing free airfare home for Memorial Day to Soldiers separated from their families.
"I got an email from Mary that said if we knew a Soldier from Huntsville who was stationed elsewhere, they could apply for this contest," Christi said. "Just a few minutes before I got the email, I was talking to Brian about when we would see each other again. It was totally a God thing."
Brian had come home for Christmas, and also for spring break and Easter. Although he and Christi both work, paying for travel expenses can get quite expensive, especially when they are also supporting two households, and Brian's three sons and Christi's daughter.
So, Brian made sure to complete the application for the Operation Homefront program.
"I had to answer some basic questions to verify that I'm in the military. They asked my kids' ages and what I planned to do while at home," he recalled.
Hanging out with Christi and his sons -- 17-year-old Christian, 13-year-old Braden and 9-year-old Jack, and Christi's daughter Erin -- was at the top of the list of things to do. The family likes to play games and swim in the pool in their backyard. Also on the list was to celebrate his birthday -- he turned 42 -- and eat Mexican food at Rosie's, his favorite restaurant.
"There's one thing you can get in Huntsville that you can't get in Iowa, and that's good Mexican food," said Brian, who lives on the Iowa side of Rock Island.
His weeklong Memorial Day visit turned into 15 days with an emergency procedure that Christi had to go through a few days after the holiday.
"It's been a blessing. It's been awesome. I actually cried when he won the ticket," Christi said.
"I come home every three or four months," Brian said. "I usually have to drive because flights are so expensive. It's a 12-hour drive, 669 miles from door to door."
Although they haven't been married long, Christi and Brian have known each other for nearly three decades, having met as young teenagers at a Schlitterbahn water park on the coast of Texas. Christi lived with her family in San Antonio and Brian with his family about five hours away on the Texas coast. They saw each other in the summer and on birthdays until Christi's family moved back to Alabama.
"We kept in touch on and off over the years," Christi said.
As they grew up, they grew more and more apart. Brian joined the Army infantry, married and had three sons. Christi married and settled in Arab. Occasionally, the friends visited each other, and Christi remembers driving to Fort Benning, Georgia, a few times so they could visit each other while Brian was in airborne school.
But the Army took them further apart and they lost contact. In 1996, Christi went to work for the Army at Redstone Arsenal.
"Once I got my job with the Army, my dad said I could use the global to find Brian. In 2005, I finally got around to looking for him," she said. "I found two Brian Moores in the global and emailed them both, putting in the subject line, 'Port O'Connor, Texas. If this is you, you'll know who I am.'"
They renewed their friendship right before Brian deployed to Iraq, where he was a member of a Special Police Training Team in 2005-06 charged with training Iraqi National Police. During the deployment, Christi sent him care packages and cards.
Once he returned, the friends happened to run into each other at Redstone.
"I had a dream and in that dream there were all these green suiters and I was looking for Brian," Christi said. "I found him and put my hand on his shoulder, and he turned around and flashed me that smile.
"So, I called him to make sure he was all right, and he said he was at a conference at Redstone Arsenal. It turned out he was actually in my building at the Sparkman Center just three stories down. So, I invited him over for dinner, and he spent the evening at my house with my family and my parents. This was the first time we had seen each other in 13 years."
Another deployment in 2010 took Brian back to Iraq, where he was the executive officer for Task Force Safe, charged with supervising a staff of 128 electricians who oversaw the electrical work performed by contractors throughout Iraq.
"She had been a great friend," Brian said. "During that last deployment, she was really there for me. She was it."
When he returned to the U.S. in July 2011, Brian visited Hoover to see his sons. Christi made a trip to check on her friend.
"I had already bought this house and I was going through a divorce. A song came on the radio that reminded me of Brian," she said. "So, I decided to go down to Hoover just to make sure he was OK. And that's when everything changed."
"All it took was us spending time together," Brian said.
The couple married Sept. 30, 2012, just a month after Brian was assigned to Rock Island.
Brian will have 25 years of service in January, 16 of those on active duty. He is considering retirement, but would like to have one last assignment at Redstone Arsenal as a logistician.
"The Army is downsizing and there aren't many major positions for green suiters at Redstone Arsenal. It's a pretty popular place for assignment because it's the hub of the Southeast," Brian said.
In July, Brian said he will decide what the next step in his career will be. He is hoping that step will bring him home for good.