My First Air Force Family

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Sometimes I wish I could make time standstill. In the constant changing life we live, every once in awhile I wish a moment would last forever.

I remember when Chip and I were stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., while he attended Air Command and Staff College. We had an amazing flight of colleagues that we soon called our good friends. The entire flight did everything together including dinners, movies, Air Force Balls, lunches and holidays.

Although the flight members were mostly Air Force, there were other services in our group. One member of our flight made a huge impact on me - Army Major Kevin Butler and his wife Janet. Kevin was the real deal, trained in everything Army; he was the person you wanted on the front lines of any war. His wife was awesome, took his bravado in stride, and loved him for it. We spent part of the holidays with them and the rest of the flight. This was my first Christmas married to the military. Even though none of us had our families nearby, it felt so easy, fun, relaxed and natural to be with that "new" Air Force Family. It was perfect and made for some of the best Christmas memories to date.

Fast forward a year, we get a phone call that Kevin was leading his Soldiers on the front lines in Iraq and was hit by a road side bomb. Thankfully he survived, but not without life altering injuries. My heart sank for his wife who knew all too well what Kevin had ahead of him. I remember writing Christmas card after Christmas card vowing never forget him while he was in the hospital. Although, he wouldn't or couldn't see the cards, I knew Janet would read them to him from us.

I savor that holiday moment in Montgomery, Ala. with my "new "Air Force family. It changed me. It made me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by hero's every day, including your spouse and mine.

So this holiday season, try to be open and thankful for what is in front of you, no matter how strange or different it feels. If you let it, your Air Force Family can be your family away from home.