1 night in China during one of our many "boardtalks" we talked about how great America is and how lucky we are, how good we have things...... Ironically enough, that same night I checked my email to find a letter from Ash saying that Jake was going to be deploying. June 25th was the long awaited and dreaded day.
To make a long story short, it was exactly what we expected it to be: hard and awful. He flew out at night so all day it was in the back of my mind, yet everything still seemed normal for the most part. Before we left for the base, my mom pulls a flag out of the garage and tells him that she wants him to put it up in the front yard and "It will stay there until YOU come home and take it out."...while crying of course. I'm pretty sure it was my mom's way of saying stay safe and make it back. This is when I started thinking "Well this is kinda weird."
We stopped for dinner on the way up and still just normal minus the fact that he was in full military uniform. Once we got to the base, we went through security and started to help unload a little bit. I looked around and saw HUNDREDS of uniformed men and woman with their kids and spouses, greeting other military friends, carrying their packs and loading trucks when I suddenly had a huge lump in my throat and it hit me that this was finally actually happening.
I didn't want to make things harder for Ash so I refused to let myself think about it and my welled up tears quickly disappeared. Thank heavens! We hung out and snacked and took pictures for a couple hours. The Deseret News had interviewed "The Brandt Boys" before because there are 3 of them going at the same time and in there he said how they seemed more like a 3 man comedy troop than 3 men heading out to war and he was exactly right! The whole time we were in the hanger I was amazed at their attitudes and how chill and relaxed they were.
Ricky (practically the 4th brother) was on the first plane and the other 3 were on the second. At this point I was still okay and things were back to seeming surreal. I went up to the front to get some pictures for Britt and I see this dad (one of mannnnny) hugging his 2 little boys, all three of them crying. I focused on pictures the same time that the dad wiped his eyes and walked away. Immediatly the younger of the brothers started to chase after him a little bit, sobbing! I will never forget his voice when he said "Daddy don't go!" Almost just as quick, the older brother was at his side, put his arm around him (still crying also) and said "It's okay buddy he'll be back!" I LOST IT!
After we said bye to Jake we stood and watched them do final formation. Earlier, Jake had ranted for 20 minutes how he was upset that you never got a second hug like they do in the movies. So NATURALLY, after their formation he was able to hurry over to get one last hug and a couple seconds with Ash. It was awesome! Then they started to line up to get on the plane so the sisters stood on the chairs watching and taking pictures until we lost sight of him. He text Ash saying what window he was in so we waved and yelled with everybody else as the plane taxied away behind their police escort. Walking out to the parking lot Brittany and I talked about how "God Bless the USA" was stuck in our head all night. The plane took off right as we were getting into all our cars.
Thanks for everything you're doing Jake, Joe, Rich, Ricky and all of Unit 141 and other soliders! Good luck and STAY SAFE!