Army Aviation

Pockets of Light

AAAA Family Forum / By Judy Konitzer: I am always excited when our readers contact me and are willing to share their stories. The following is a recent submission from Lorie Hanna who said, Supporting her husband in uniform is a privilege, raising a patriotic thankful family is her joy, and serving our military families on the home front is her greatest honor. I hope you will enjoy Lorie’s article as much as I did. —Judy

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As the spouse of an Army aviator, I may be more prone to noticing the sky than the average wife. I pay attention to the type of clouds overhead and its movement, the speed of the wind, and how much moonlight there is in the evening.

I track the incoming storms and weather and have my phone set to time zones from Texas to Afghanistan. Most importantly, I pause from my daily routine of organized chaos to observe the “pockets of light” that cross my path. They offer me hope.

Getting through breakfast without crying over spilled milk, diverting the dogs from staining the carpet with muddy paws, and keeping tantrums at a minimum (including my own) is my morning checklist. The window above the kitchen sink offers me a reminder of my husband’s life in the sky, and I am hopeful that the pre-flight and maintenance checks are flawless for my soldier, that clear skies line his route, and that the refueling airfield offers a hearty meal and great ambiance for pleasant conversation among buddies. Tugs on my shirt pull me out of a daydream and remind me that I am needed to teach the children, patch the boo-boos, and retrieve the Legos “gone rogue” from the dryer. I am expected to keep the calm, wipe the tears, and pretend that I don’t hinge my sanity on receiving a phone call or text message to assure me he had a safe flight.

Once you experience trauma from the ugliness of war, it stays with you, so whether my soldier is in the states or overseas, I will always live with, and manage a concern for his well-being. A cool breeze catches my attention and I wonder where he is, hoping for an uneventful flight and a fast debrief so that he can make it home for dinner. I welcome his embrace and assess his mood to determine whether or not the children and I should proceed with enthusiasm or caution. I am unbothered by the uniforms flooding the laundry, his boots blocking the front door, or the flight gear lining the hallway.

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The author and her husband, Lorie and Chris Hanna / PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUTHOR

A late-night run to the curb to drop off the garbage entices me to look up, and notice the stars. I wonder how the world looks through night-vision goggles and I hope that his perspective is as glorious as mine, even if we don’t share it side-by-side. I look forward to an evening together, even if it is a last-minute request (because he waited three weeks to inform me about it), and dining with other military families is never considered a nuisance but a pleasure. I embrace the time together to get dressed up and have an adult conversation, and accept that I will only be able to translate 50% of the “aviator lingo” that will be exchanged throughout dinner. I find joy when a fellow aviator triggers a laughter in my spouse that only his peers can do, and am thankful for that priceless comradery. I hope that my soldier is patient with me as I try to decode the acronyms used, recall the differences between brigade and battalion, and keep up with the changes in what “shop” he serves in. As long as I don’t refer to a general as lieutenant, we’ll be fine.

I hope that my spouse knows that I respect him for how he chooses to serve with honor, and that I try to do the same, even though my daily uniform consists of flip flops, jeans and a t-shirt. I will never know the pressures of commanding an aviation unit, make sense of how difficult it is to manage a heavy slingload, understand the challenges of maneuvering a Bambi Bucket, or comprehend the stress of finding a landing zone in combat. And he will never know the pressures of disciplining hungry children in a crowded waiting room at the doctor’s office (while trying to answer his FaceTime call from across the globe), realize that my version of a “slingload” is getting to the backseat of the minivan with a ginormous pregnant belly to unbuckle a child, grasp the challenges of maneuvering a triple stroller throughout a narrow grocery store aisle, or understand the stress of locating a restroom that will fit me and the five children during the potty-training years.

My rucksack consists of a diaper bag, a change of clothes, and snacks. I don’t dodge bullets or mortars, I take cover from spit-up, throw-up and other bodily fluid malfunctions. I am not a part of a brotherhood, but motherhood fits me well, and Army sisterhood is an unbreakable bond that will last me a lifetime.

I am the spouse of an Army aviator, and with every change of mission, delayed estimated time of arrival, and push to the right, I will wait. When the hardships of life pass through and my husband is called to serve away from home, I will do as my aviator does, and wait for clearance for take-off, rise above the storm, and search for the “pockets of light.”
That hope is what always brings us home.

Lorie Hanna is the spouse of MAJ Chris Hanna, Chinook pilot and instructor, Texas Army National Guard. Lorie holds an MS in Rehabilitation Services, University of North Texas and a BS in Public Relations, Syracuse University. The Hannas have five children and currently are stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Judy Konitzer is the family forum editor for ARMY AVIATION; questions and suggestions can be directed to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”>This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The author and her husband, Lorie and Chris Hanna / PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUTHOR