November 2007Standing By (and also the OP), there has been a running conversation about Lifetime's Army Wives. I started watching this season and it's pretty good. While I am not the targeted demographic, it does touch at some of the raw nerves felt by Army families. And so I watch.
But I am stickler for details. While it's fictional, if the writers would do a little more research they might end up with a better story.
Last night (it airs Sunday at 10 p.m. but I catch the Monday 8 p.m. replay), some Airborne troopers returned home from Iraq. They stood patiently at ease on the tarmac in front of a C-130 while families waited and a short prayer was recited. It looked good on TV but that's not how it is done.
When the Airborne troopers come home, they do it right.
The families are a sequestered in the cavernous Green Ramp at Pope Air Force Base. It's a hanger where they prepare for training jumps. The benches are built to accommodate a soldier with parachutes front and back and the families awkwardly sit waiting for the troopers. There are signs everywhere and the noise, despite the 82nd's band, is deafening.
In November, when Alpha, Delta and HHC companies flew in, the charter did a low loop around Pope AFB and waggled its wings before landing. One Dad standing next to me said the waggle wasn't for us but for the Best Buy employees as a sign that business was suddenly going to improve.
When the plane landed, a two-star was there to shake each soldiers hand. The troops formed in a column of eight and the rear guard marched out with the battalion colors, on which there are battle streamers from every major campaign - some dating back to WWI. Even the most hardened are moved by the colors as they move out to the returning soldiers. The troops then march in to Green Ramp. A tribute is given to the fallen and the troops are dismissed to their families, who are scrambling to find them. The soldiers have about five minutes before they reform to turn in their weapons and other gear. It's great theater, far better than a group soldiers standing at ease on the tarmac in front of a C-130.
But in reality, it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it's "boots on the ground" at home.