Rubbing noses
A tiny Kaitlin Bollinger rubs noses with her Soldier dad, Sgt. 1st Class Harold Bollinger. A grown-up version of the adorable baby wrote a moving article about how it felt to be left behind, worrying, every time her National Guard father deployed on missions. Photo courtesy of the Bollinger family

<i>The following article is written by the daughter of one of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (GMD)Aca,!a,,cs most beloved Soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Harold Bollinger, who was with the unit for many many years, in multiple capacities. He served as a crew member, as a unit training NCO, as the Family Readiness liaison NCO, and as fundraiser extraordinaire, to name but a few. He is now serving at Fort Carson with the Regimental Training Institute as a Warrior Leader Course instructor, and is sorely missed by the brigade. We publish his daughterAca,!a,,cs musings on how it feels to be a family member of a National Guard Soldier, always subject to deployment, to both honor him and remind all of us to cherish our families and our freedoms at this special time of year.</i> Aca,!" The 100th Missile Defense Brigade (GMD) Public Affairs Office

It was early in the morning and dark outside with only street lights shining through the trees. I could almost smell the dew on the leaves and feel the moisture in the air. It was cold outside to the point where my teeth were chattering. My dad picked me up to keep me warm. I could not understand why my whole family had gotten up so early to go stand next to a tall chain link fence. Most of my family was crying and all I remember anyone saying was my dad, in a calm soothing voice, "Don't worry, I'll be home soon."

We stood there for a time that felt like an eternity until my dad put me down and picked up a large green duffle bag and gave my mom a kiss. I remember riding home thinking. "I don't understand what is happening." I soon realized my dad was deployed for a long time and that meant he would be missing Christmas, my birthday and every holiday in between. When he came back, I remember making signs to welcome him home and standing in the airport terminal waiting for his arrival.

A few short weeks later near his birthday, I remember him packing a suitcase and me asking, "Where are you going daddy'" His always calm voice answered "It's just in case." A few days later he left again and that meant that he would be missing many more holidays, and other events in my life.

Soon it was the new millennium and finally my family was whole again. That is, until one day I again found myself outside that same chain link fence that was not so tall now but in every way as painful. This time both my dad and brother were carrying the same duffle bags. This time I was determined not to cry, because crying would not unpack their bags and soaking in my tears would not make them stay. They eventually came home safe... but my dad still has a suitcase packed in his closet.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16