Friday, 06 March 2015 19:26

Family Teams for Life: Military Edition

Written by  Mike and Lisa Conn
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It was a cold, rainy day in West Germany in 1984 when I attended the mandatory NEO (noncombatant evacuation operation) briefing at Rhein-Main Air Base.  A non-combatant is a spouse or family member who may be in danger in the event of a natural disaster or military emergency.  East and West Germany were divided; and living in Frankfurt placed us near the Fulda Gap, an important strategic location during the Cold War.  Strategists on both sides of the Iron Curtain understood the Fulda Gap’s importance, and assigned forces to defend and attack it. 

The NEO briefing gave noncombatants an evacuation plan to get us out of the area should we be attacked by the Russians.  This meant I kept a backpack ready with passports for our two young children and me.  In addition, I stocked the backpack with food and water, clothes, blankets, and diapers.  My plan in case of evacuation was to place our two year old in the stroller while carrying our infant in my front pack and supplies in my back pack.  The trainers explained that they would do everything possible to help us evacuate, but if they were unable to assist, we were given a chilling instruction:  just walk west.


Reminiscing about those years in Germany brings to mind one of my “life verses”.



 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)



The threat hanging over us in Germany was a challenge to face.  God used it to remind me that in all things, especially in challenging times, God works for the good.  The “good,” to name a few, was that I became prepared to do my best to protect our family should we be threatened.  I bonded in friendship with other wives who were facing the same challenges and now, 31 years later, we are still good friends.  I learned what it meant for my husband to be serving our country overseas in a dangerous capacity.  Those challenges helped us learn how to keep our priorities in line--God, family, and the mission. 


All military members swear an oath of office upon joining the service.  Below is the oath for officers.


“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Wikipedia)


This oath is taken very seriously by our armed forces. It differentiates us from most civilians.  All military families live under the threat of losing life or limb for their country.  For example, when I was six months pregnant with our first child I had to face the possibility of losing my husband and my child’s father, as Mike and his unit were suddenly deployed for the Invasion of Grenada.  During our time in Germany he flew several days a week on missions with the “Berlin for Lunch Bunch,” flying via the Berlin Air Corridors and Control Zone over communist East Germany and thousands of Russian missiles and tanks.  But our sacrifices pale in comparison to what today’s military families are going through.  They face multiple deployments and assignments to hot spots around the world like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea.  During the Cold War, we knew who the enemy was, where they were, and what uniforms they wore.  Now, in the war on terrorism, we don’t always know who the enemy is, where they are, or what they look like, until it’s too late. 


Because of our love, respect, and concern for military families and because we have the unique privilege of having Maxwell Air Force Base and Air University in our area, during the months ahead, our articles will feature stories about the unique challenges that military marriages and families face and overcome in order to keep us free.  We hope you will be blessed by them!





Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:38
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