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Better looking every year compressedIt’s Veteran’s Day. Flags are flying and the words, “Thank you for your service” can be heard all around.

I like Veteran’s Day because it gives me a chance to remember how fortunate I am. You see, I’m the wife of a retired veteran. A rather hot Navy pilot, to be exact. Fortunate doesn’t even begin to cover it, if ya know what I mean. (wink wink)

There are a plethora of blogs out there documenting military life. In all my 25 years as a Navy wife I never wrote one. But I do want to pull back the curtain a bit and offer a glimpse into some of our memorable moments with our very own Navy vet, my dear hub.

**Editorial note: I had to scan some of these pictures, so the pic quality isn’t stellar, but the content is.

First of all, you need to know the hub’s call sign. It’s RicDaddy. And even though he’s retired, I still call him that. Call signs, like nicknames, tend to stick. I’m planning on teaching our grand kids to call him RicDaddy. And, given my side of the family’s propensity to struggle with “Rs”, he’ll forever be known as IckDaddy. It will be hilarious.

So, what’s it been like being married to and raising kids with RicDaddy?

Well, for starters, I got to see my guy in some pretty sweet uniforms. There is the flight suit…

This was taken in the era of Top Gun. Only my guy is legit.

RicDaddy was a member of the enlisted ranks for 10 years as an Aircrewman. I met this young stud on the beach in Pensacola.

This was taken in the era of Top Gun. It’s pretty much what hooked me. I’m not gonna lie.

Then he went to Officer Candidate School.
Cue Officer and a Gentleman music in five…

four…

three…

two…

Yep, that's my guy on the left. Hubba hubba.

That’s my officer, who is a real gentleman, by the way, on the left.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, that uniform affects women exactly the way you think it does.)

Flight school in Enid, Oklahoma

But there’s just something about a flight suit…

Flash forward: Top Gun might be old and a tad cheesy, but I’m pretty sure it’s imprinted into every young man’s DNA, nonetheless.

sdfd

RicDaddy’s flight suits getting “worked” on Halloween. Second in the desert digs on the left and Third wearing the at-sea digs on the right. The kid in the middle is their friend/bro in crime.

Now, if your dad’s in the Navy, you might have some pretty suspicious looking dudes hanging around the house once in a while.

Second wanted these guys OFF his trampoline.

Third sizing up the nefarious characters sitting on his trampoline. He wants them to move.

But at least you get to take cool pictures with your dad when he gets his wings.

RicDaddy and First.

RicDaddy and First.

RicDaddy with a very smiley Second.

RicDaddy and Second.

Third scraped his knee running to the plane. Poor Second.

RicDaddy with Third, who scraped  his knee running to the plane.

And those wings? Well, I got the honor of pinning those on RicDaddy. You see, when I met him eleven years prior (see first studly picture at the top of this post) he told me he would be a pilot one day. Those were some pretty bold words coming out of the mouth of an E3 sailor.

But I knew him. I hadn’t known him long, but I already knew what was inside the man we would call RicDaddy. So I went out and bought him his solid gold Aviator wings. They sat in a box in our dresser for eleven years.

And then I got to pin them on.

Never once doubted I'd get to do this.

Never once doubted I’d get to do this.

Turns out, he got me my own set of gold wings on a gold chain.

Yes, he's that kind of guy.

Yes, he’s that kind of guy.

(sniff) It still gets me.

And once your dad’s a pilot you get to go see him at work and play with some pretty cool toys.

Cropped12

Second holding the center line in the simulator.

First  doing touch and go's

First doing touch and go’s in the Sim.

And, years later, when you’re older and dad’s a big shot, you get to spend a week on an aircraft carrier!

First literally steering the USS Abraham Lincoln.

First literally steering the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Or make yourself comfortable in the captain's chair.

Second made himself comfortable in the captain’s chair on more than one occasion.

Third sleeping in his dad's bunk on the ship.

Third crashing in his dad’s bunk on the ship.

No, it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies living this Navy life. I mean, there are deployments and more moves than you can count on two hands, but I know none of us would change a thing.

Back in the day when RicDaddy went through boot camp he was told, “Your family isn’t packed in your sea bag!” which means, the Navy is first, your family is second…if you’re lucky. RicDaddy warned me about this.

I steeled myself.

I was ready.

But it never turned out that way. Sure, RicDaddy packed many sea bags and went on many deployments, but we never felt like he really left us. Maybe that’s because, in the midst of everything the Navy demanded of him, he purposed to inextricably weave us into the very fiber of his being, and he into ours.

Because that’s the kind of man he is.

Because he’s this kind of dad…

RicDaddy and Third working on school together.

Working on schoolwork with Third.

RicDaddy teaching Second how a man navigates in the kitchen.

Teaching Second how a man navigates in the kitchen.

Because his kids were never in the way.

RicDaddy getting some help from First during one of our many moves.

Getting some help from First during one of our many moves.

Because, no matter how arduous his training, RicDaddy wasn’t going to miss any milestones.

RicDaddy during flight school takes a break to teach First how to ride a bike...on the Corpus Christi beach.

During flight school, taking a break from studying to teach First how to ride a bike…on Corpus Christi beach.

Because the biggest events in his life aren’t big events if his family isn’t by his side.

RicDaddy with Third.

Holding Third on the night of his winging.

Second on RicDaddy's arm at his commissioning. (Blurry, but you get the idea.)

Second on his arm at his commissioning.

For 27 years RicDaddy served his country in exemplary fashion, but his greatest accomplishment was how he served, ministered to, and protected our three sons and me. Not just from harm globally and close to home, but from feeling fractured and empty when he was gone. Even when deployed, RicDaddy was the glue that kept us close. And we felt safe because of that.

That kind of thing can only be accomplished by a man who holds his family deep in his heart…and lives it out.

So, Happy Veteran’s Day, RicDaddy. Thank you for your service to our country. And our deepest thank you for your commitment to your family.

Retirement day.

Retirement day. Yes, that uniform still makes me blush.

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