Lori (Calloway) Wilson was sixteen years old, a high school sophomore, when her dad, Richard Calloway, was deployed with the 1450th Transportation Company of the National Guard to serve in Iraq. Here are some of her memories, looking back on those times:
As a teen I remember vividly the potential that men from our county would be going. I remember hoping and praying that my dad wouldn’t have to go. I had heard some stories about the hardships he had suffered in Vietnam, even being awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery and service, and I wondered what this tour would be like for him. The thought of having a parent go to war brought up feelings of worry. Your imagination runs wild and you wonder what if something happens? What would life be like if he wasn’t here? Facing danger in war time changes your perspective.
There was a big send-off at the National Guard Armory, where all the families gathered for a farewell reception. This was a very patriotic event with prayers from county officials. It seemed to go quickly and before you knew it, Dad was on his way to Fort Lee, Virginia. People lined up along the roads waving with the send-off. There were tears and uncertainties about not knowing what these soldiers, (my dad!) would be facing overseas. When would he be back? Would he be okay?
We would listen to news on TV and radio for information about where they might be, but it was all secretive. When we started getting letters, Dad still wasn’t allowed to say where he was. I did my best to keep busy with school, dance and cheer. I also kept up with my little sister, Emily, who was three years old at the time. While all this was happening, my grandma was in the nursing home suffering from dementia and cardiac issues. It was our family’s mission to keep the news of war, and especially Dad serving, a secret from her.
During that time, I learned the power of God’s word to fight my fear. I learned that I could use God’s word as a weapon against fear. There was no question that this war and those who fought for our country made me appreciate the freedoms we have as Americans. This freedom comes at a high price and should not be taken for granted.
When the 1450th Transportation Company came home we went to Beaver Creek High to meet them. I remember the whole county having a sense of pride and relief that our men had served bravely and were now safely home. I was ecstatic to have my dad back and thanked God for bringing him home to our family.