For a long time now, I have been debating on whether to share my story or not? It hurt to much to talk about it, but then I would find peace and want to talk about it. A constant battle with myself makes me think I am going crazy….. Then I finally received my answer a few days ago. My husband’s best friend, who was deployed with him called me up and we just talked and remembered Joe. He told me how much Joe would laugh because I could talk for days and he could never understand how. So in his honor I am going to talk, and tell you our story……
It all began when my best friend who was in Hawaii at the time, called me up and asked me to come visit. At the time I was working for a commercial airline (ex: United, American, and Delta) as a Flight Attendant. January of 2010, I made the 9 hour flight from Texas, my home, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The night I landed my friend and her husband had a bunch of people over to welcome me to the island; it was the first time I saw, wearing a red sweatshirt and shorts with flip flops, in the kitchen cooking, stood Joseph Altmann. Who was a soldier with the US Army, and a Senior Line Medic. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. We talked all thru the night and then spent every day for the next 6 days together.
That’s all it took those 6 days we both knew we had something special. Time came and I had to return to my job in Texas and he was to remain on the island. My best friend and Joe took me to the airport, as we said our good bye’s, Joe and I shared a kiss and he said, “Not good bye, I’ll see you later”. I giggled, because it was from a movie, he didn’t know that. Then I gave him a kiss and a hug and said “ok, I’ll see you later”. That became our thing, we never said good bye, it was always see you later. Over the next year, emails, Skype dates, text messages, and phone calls and when my scheduled allowed I would fly to Hawaii to see him. Sometimes for 4 days other times for 10 hours. We made it work, because every minute together was worth it. June 2010 Joe received his orders for Afghanistan. It took him a week to tell me, because he didn’t know how I was to react to the news. We had only been dating a few months but only saw each other in person about 14 days. Joe was keeping count of how much time we actually spent face to face. I had no idea he was doing this. It made sense, one day he said “at this rate it will take about 4 years for us to be face to face for what takes a normal couple a year.” I laughed so hard when he told me that. After that we both kept count. In October 2010 I began flying with a charter company that transports military personnel all over the world, for deployment, R&R, re-deployments, and training. While I was in training to get my wings for this company, Joe was on an intensive course for the Expert Field Medical Badge, starts with 150 soldiers and only 12 finished the course. Joe was one of the 12. On the same day, he received his badge I received my wings. That day we talked to congratulate each other, I told Joe, “I’ll do my part, while you do yours during this deployment.” He responded, “Works for me.” He always knew how to make me smile and laugh. January 2011, I was in Europe working and Joe calls me on Skype, “What do you think about us getting married?” I remember looking at the screen in complete shock, I asked him, “I hope you’re not proposing over Skype?” He says, “Oh no! I just wanted to see what you thought.” Joe and I had talked about marriage before and we always knew one day we would, just wasn’t sure when. I told Joe, “I’ll be coming to Hawaii in a few days; we can talk in person more.”
I finally arrived in Hawaii, I would be staying for 10 days, the longest amount of time consecutively we had spent together. We were thrilled!! On Feb 15, 2011 on the beach of Waikiki, we were pronounced husband and wife. It was just the two of us and it was perfect!! We agreed with our family’s we would have a big wedding when Joe got back from this deployment. On April 4th I watched Joe with his buddy’s board a bus that would take them to the flight line to board the plane. I knew I would see him again in a few months but it’s still so hard to watch your loved one leave. The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming, because you’re still not sure if you will see them again. November 2011 I was there with my friend who was videotaping this whole reunion about to take place. I finally would see my husband. YEAH!!!! I was so thrilled and so ecstatic, all my friends who I worked with saw my excitement leading up to this day. 6 long months I had waited. As everyone knows R&R is a blessing and the love you have for each other shines brighter than any star in the sky. Joe and I both would soon return to work, I would again have to watch the man I love board a plan that I work on, go figure! It wasn’t any easier the 2nd time. On Dec 26th I was overseas about to leave with my crew to head to the airport. When I got a phone call from my company telling me my schedule changed. This was the norm for us, so I didn’t question. Then on my hotel room door I got a knock it was the manager escorted by 2 military officers.
I remember when I saw them the only thing I could say was. “Please tell me he is severely injured, please let him be injured.” I was wrong, as the officer got down on one knee with tears in his eyes; he begins to tell me, my husband was killed in action last night on December 25th 2011. That’s when the world just stopped. It would take 12 days before we could lay my husband to rest. I still to this day remember and feel everything the moment they placed the flag from his casket, into my hands.
I miss him every day, and I know one day I will see him again. Till then I know I am here for a purpose, and I want to make him proud, that’s why I have gone back to school to get my degree so I can make a difference and help people the best way I know how. Joe was a Combat Medic, because he loved what he did and he was good at it. His friends have told me stories of the times they saw Joe in action when one of their own was injured. They said “he did it without hesitation and he did it with passion, you could see he loved what he did.” That I will always remember about him, and that’s what I hope to pass on.