Fly Safe: Letters from the Gulf War and Reflections from Back Home provides a personal, intimate view into a military family’s experiences during wartime deployments. This unique memoir uses a combination of storytelling, letters, and journal entries so you can witness the deployment experiences of both Vicky Cody and her husband.
In 1990, Lt. Col. Dick Cody was the commander of an elite Apache helicopter battalion. When the Gulf War began, he and his pilots were the first ones to cross into Iraq at night on a special mission to fire the first shots of the war. His wife, Vicky, was home at Fort Campbell, raising their two sons, and trying to hold the families in the battalion together. With limited communication, little news, and a lot of uncertainty, she and the other spouses in the battalion struggled to move forward in a confusing wartime environment.
Even though the events of the book took place more than a generation ago, the sentiments of a soldier’s spouse still resonate with readers today. All military spouses and loved ones can relate to the struggles Vicky describes on the homefront: the excitement of finally hearing your service member’s voice on the phone, the challenge of “staying strong” and keeping things normal for the kids, and the terror of news cycles that focus on violence in the deployed location. Although this is a memoir of the Gulf War, it is a book that speaks to modern military families.
I was in elementary school when America first fought against Iraq in the Gulf War. I remember writing letters to deployed soldiers and learning patriotic songs to sing during our grade school family performances. I was too young to understand anything about the war, about Middle East geography, and how the troops’ involvement “over there” was impacting American lives. As a child, I had no active-duty service members in my family, so I never had a direct connection to the Gulf War.
Fly Safe provides insight into the war I was too young to experience. Through Cody’s accounts, I learned about military operations I had never heard about as a child. I gained a new appreciation for the sacrifices of the deployed troops, as well as their families waiting for news back home. The book also provided a unique opportunity to witness a modern-era war that families experienced without the convenience of internet or cell phones.
The modern military spouse has little experience of life before cell phones or the internet. Spouses today are used to receiving text messages and emails during deployment. During the Gulf War, in the 1990’s, those “luxuries” did not exist. Cody shows us what deployments were like, not so long ago, when the only possible form of communication was snail mail. Fly Safe gives the current generation a glimpse into the challenging deployment environment that existed just one generation before them.
This insight into the Gulf War deployment experience is important for two reasons. First, it helps modern military spouses appreciate technology advancements and the difference it has made in modern deployment experiences. I often feel like I am the bridge between those two different generations with vastly different experiences. During my husband’s first five deployments, he was in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. We could only communicate through mailed letters and rare, unpredictable phone calls—much like the situation Cody describes. But during my husband’s later two deployments, he was in non-combat settings, where he had regular access to email and sometimes wi-fi for video calls. That was an entirely different experience! It’s because of our diverse deployment experiences that I am able to support military spouses now, whether they are experiencing frustration from a lack of communication, or struggling with misunderstandings from “too much communication” from text messages during deployment.
The second reason Cody’s insight is important is that it shows current active duty service members how the wartime military operated before they joined. The leadership that trained and formed my husband during his early deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan all gained experience during the Gulf War. Fly Safe explains so much about the way the military operated before my husband joined, and why some of his former officers had the rules and expectations they did. He and I both enjoyed the rare, personal insight into military leadership during the Gulf War.
I recommend Fly Safe: Letters from the Gulf War and Reflections from Back Home to any military spouse who is facing upcoming deployment or wants to gain insight to the Gulf War or the lifestyle of military families in the 1990’s. The book was just published this month and is available on Amazon.