While I did not think that I would be able to provide much of an update while overseas, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) building had a non-government computer that allowed me access to the site, so I wanted to send out a quick update. Last time I wrote, I was headed to Romania or Poland with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), ready to proudly serve my country overseas once again.
Although it was up in the air to where I would be going, I ultimately ended up in Romania. We are currently deployed to Eastern Europe in support of Operation European Assure, Deter, and Reinforce (OEADR) with the mission to Assure our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies of the United States’ resolve, Deter further Russian aggression, and Reinforce our and our allies’ position in Eastern Europe. While it is unfortunately keeping me away from the girls, this is a very important mission and I am very proud to be a part of it.
And the girls understand that. They certainly do not like being away from me, but they understand what I am doing is important. At the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, they saw the devastation that was occurring to cities and the people within them, particularly to the children of Ukraine, and they knew I was needed to make sure more people did not get hurt. They do not like it, but understand and are trying to make the best of it.
They are adapting as best as they can to their new school in Texas, participating in lots of events and activities, including getting back into tumbling (where they are excelling). I am so proud of them.
As I promised them before leaving, I am writing them every day. Seems a little corny and outdated, I know, but it keeps us both sane. It gives me another way to communicate with my daughters (we still FaceTime a couple times a week) and something to occupy the little free time I have, while it gives them comfort knowing that I am safe and miss them very much.
They also have received multiple care packages of Greek, Bulgarian, and Romanian candy and sweets, so they are definitely seeing some of the benefits of me being deployed.
While I do not get out as much as I probably could, I have visited some cool places in Eastern Europe. I went down to Greece on business for a few days, which led to me eating a lot of local food and perusing far too many bakeries to count. I have also been to Bucharest, the capital of Romania, a few times, with seeing the Palace of the Parliament being the highlight so far. The opportunity to see both the heaviest and most expensive administrative building in the world? Yes, please. But I am saving a lot over here, specifically to build on Elaina and Gabriella’s college funds. Yes, I could go out and see more of Europe, but it is a small price to pay to ensure my daughters can have a quality college education. Always thinking of them first, like a good Dad should.
I have had worse deployments, specifically combat deployments, but this is the first since I have had children; while I absolutely love serving my country, for their sake, I hope this is my last deployment. Only time will tell, as I still have quite a bit of time left in the Army before I plan to hang up my spurs, but I think this one cut me a little more deeply than expected. Either way, the Calkins family will persevere and Elaina, Gabriella, and I will all be stronger for having gone through this. Just cannot wait to get back home to them.
Thanks for checking in on us.