MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio — It is often said that when a person is in the military, the family at home serves as well. This includes children, a spouse, parents and more.
Currently on her second deployment in the past few years, Air Force Tech Sgt. E6 Catie (Wolfe) Cox is the daughter of Carl and Della Wolfe and is the mother of two young girls — Carly and Calie. Cox’s husband Randie, a former Marine, now works on the Air Force base the family calls home in North Dakota. Catie is a 2009 graduate of Meigs High School and enlisted in the Air Force, completing basic training in 2011.
Earlier this fall, Catie, Randie and their children made the trip from North Dakota back to Meigs County, as they prepared for Catie’s deployment.
As they prepared for that deployment, Della said, Catie took the girls to shop for their Halloween costumes, as well as picking out gifts for Christmas (even opening a few with them) and decorating a tree (with red, white and blue stars). Carly and Calie will be spending Christmas with their grandparents.
Della said it helped Catie that she was able to prepare with them for the deployment.
This is the second time Cox has been deployed since becoming a mom, having been deployed for around three months when Carly, now nearly 4, was 18 months old. Now, with Calie 19 months old, Cox is deployed once again.
Catie left for deployment to the Middle East on Sept. 28 for what is supposed to be a six-month deployment.
Carl and Della cared for Carly during the first deployment and have the girls currently during this deployment. The girls are expected to spend time with their other grandparents during a portion of the deployment as well.
It has been an adjustment, said Carl and Della of having their granddaughters live with them.
“You have to adjust to having babies again,” said Della. “You aren’t in grandparent mode, you have to be in parent mode.”
They have adjusted to a new routine, not only with the girls, but with their own retirements earlier this year.
“You alter everything, but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Della.
“We volunteered to do it (keeping the girls),” said Della. “You want to do whatever you can for your kids to make things easier.” Della said that they have explained to the girls that this is home for them while their mom is deployed.
She added that Carly will tell people that her mommy is “at work far away.”
Each of the girls has a doll which was made for them with a picture of their mom in her uniform. The dolls each say “Mommy loves you” and are something that the girls can hold on to while their mom is away.
“Catie did a great job to prepare them,” said Della. “They knew they were coming to our house for awhile while mommy is far away at work.”
Thanks to advances in technology Carly and Calie are able to communicate daily through Facetime or calls with both their mom and dad. They can also send pictures. The time difference to the Middle East, around eight hours, means that when they are able to talk in the mornings here, it is evening there.
They try to keep the girls busy with outside activities and spending time with family, including the Wolfes’ other grandchildren and several other family members. They have been to football games this fall, and will be going to basketball games soon.
As with any parents having a child deployed, there is the stress and worry. That is the case this time, but there is also the worry for Carly and Calie and helping them to adjust.
“When you leave the confines of this country there is a certain degree of anxiety and worry, you are at the mercy of the people there,” said Carl.
The question comes up from time to time as to how Catie can be away from the girls and deal with the things that come with being in the military.
Della explained that when she enlisted in the Air Force, Catie knew what the military was about and that it would be her job. “You sacrifice and give up things to be in the military,” said Della.
“We always wanted her to be independent and she knew what she was doing entering the military and having a family,” said the Wolfes of their daughter. They added that they are proud of her and her service to the country.
Catie should be able to retire around the time Carly starts high school. Additionally, since Catie is nearly done with her bachelor’s degree and has not used her GI bill, that will be able to be split between her girls.
“It takes a village and we are thankful to our family both near and far who are here to help,” concluded Della.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.