Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Cousin Kari and her family

This past week I had some great communication with my cousin Kari, Pat and Pudge's daughter. It came about when I emailed her to ask her if her husband Charlie had ever been stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California. She replied with the nicest message. So I pursued it further by asking her if she would allow me to write a little blog article about her and her family—what they're doing now, and perhaps a few pictures. I was blown away with the nicest message . . .

Kari wrote:

I have visited your blog before so I am certainly aware of it and of course I have no problem with this. I need to bookmark it so I remember to look at it. What a great way to be able to look back and remember the years. I thought about starting a blog but then realize I probably wouldn't keep it up. I love those pictures of you guys at that monastery, so cute in the dresses!

I looked through some old pictures that I had - what a trip down memory lane - it has been good for me too. Charlie was in Afghanistan and Iraq on his last tour and his pictures are truly amazing. At that time he was in the AMOG which was a mobility group and they would go forward to desolate, abandoned areas and build a functional airfield. He would stay for months, hence why we felt it was good to retire since Jamie was born 5 days before 9-11 and I had both kids at home at that time, still working full time. But when I look back at his pictures, it is truly amazing and I appreciate it more - lots of the kids and villagers in Afghanistan. I forgot what those guys went through, his picture of his cot/barracks are pretty sparse, and he and a buddy still would try and run on a track that is something to see too. He has pictures of landmines, and the compound he was on, and all the equipment. I included a couple of pictures - he met the Afghani soldiers and there is one old man in particular (2nd pic) that I think was their cleaner and Charlie got to know him, He was touched by his story and his life.  

When Charlie retired I put together a slide show set to music of his career so I was looking through that - it made me realize I need to share it with the kids- especially Travis, because he LOVES the military, and I wouldn't doubt it he goes in also. 

The AMOG was his last squadron - before that he was a load master on the C5s and their missions were generally about 2 weeks to drop stuff off - lots of humanitarian and supply type of things. Since they were short trips, that was a great deal because they went everywhere - so he literally saw the world - Australia, South America, Europe, Africa—pretty much anywhere you ask if he has been there and he has. They were callous to the locations though, in my opinion. After a while they would really not go see the areas they were stopped in! Charlie was also the Senior NCO in his squadron so he supervised the whole crew of enlisted load masters. I cherish the memories of all the guys and gals we got to know. The military is such a family, you get to know people's problems, issues, and successes in a very personal way, and Charlie had lots to be involved in that would be unheard of in civilian life. I'm sure Hans understands. We were usually the host family on holidays for all the orphans and I miss our celebrations with large crowds of single folks over for Thanksgiving/Christmas meals. There were also some tragedies, I remember the death of a guy we knew very well due to lots of family issues that Charlie had been involved with, and when he passed, it was shocking. The military ceremonies were also amazing. 

Elizabeth, Sarah, and Travis at Columbia University

L to R: Travis, Sarah, Kari, Charlie, and in front is Elizabeth

The kid's picture includes Travis - he is 15, close to 16 and driving soon, Elizabeth - 13, and of course Sarah, who is 26, living in Manhattan, but currently in Colombia (South America) for school. She is finishing up a master's at Columbia University (pic taken there) and figuring out what job to do in June. She was with the FBI and might even go back to be an agent! She has other options though too, so not sure yet. My career field is environmental engineering and it is has been great for me in air pollution reductions—plan to do this for a few more years and then I hope to see where God puts me next to be of more service to others and Him. Some of the gifts He has given me to share could be in tutoring (education is important to me) for high risk/needy and a christian fitness ministry which I am passionate about - and have led at our church for a while and hope to expand... zumba-like with christian uplifting joyous music- makes you want to move for HIM. As you probably know I have been a lifelong runner - that is how I met Charlie - and now our entire family have this gift, all kids have been in cross country and track. It keeps us healthy, fit, skinny, and balanced and we thank God for this gift. 

Well I hope you enjoy the pictures - I enjoyed looking them up and thinking about that time in our life. I miss the military and have fond memories of all the supportive people that were like my family at that time. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Much Love, Kari

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