Birthdays, Weddings, A Mom Misses Her New Marine

Boot camp Marine Jared Agle's sister and cousins send him a photo message from their October family gathering.

By April Agle, a new Marine Mom

(My Marine son) Jared is blessed with a wonderful family.  Someone was always sending him a letter or card.  Parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents. I know it was important that he have some mail almost every day.  I kept thinking what if he has a really bad day and that is the day that he does not get mail.

I have a whole new appreciation for the military families from past wars.  The time when the only communication was via letters.  Our generation is quite spoiled with our ability to instantly contact one another with cell phones, email, and skype.  Boot camp only allows letters – snail mail. 

It is amazing what you can pick up in letters.  You can really get a sense of the person’s feelings, whether they are happy or down.  Over the weeks Jared’s letters were up and down. 

Roger Agle (left) and 17-year-old son, Jared, August 2010 just before reporting to Paris Island boot camp.

It was frustrating writing to encourage him knowing that his mood would probably be over before he received my encouragement.  I found I had many questions for Jared after reading his letters and it was frustrating not being able to ask and get the answer right away.

Jared’s birthday is in August.  He was going to have his 18th birthday at Paris Island.  This was a hard day for all of us.  Jared was down in the dumps as his birthday was getting closer. 

I joked with him writing that this would be the only birthday that he would remember everything about.  He would always remember where he was and what he was doing on his 18th birthday.  Something he could share with his own children some day.

It was the first birthday of Jared’s that I was not with him.  No cake and no special dinner.

I heard from an acquaintance of mine, Jenny, that her husband was being deployed to Afghanistan.  They have two young children.  She is such a positive upbeat person and a true inspiration.  Jenny was encouraging me, when she was and is going through so much herself. 

Now part of the "military family," April's friend Jenny shares this photo of her children and husband before his deployment.

Jenny and her children stopped at work to see me.  Her children made Jared a Thank you card and asked for me to send it to him.  It was the sweetest thing.  Their dad is deployed and they took time to make something for Jared.  I was so touched.  I was starting to see what a close knit group the military is.

A family event was coming up and this would be the first time Jared would not be with us.  My brother was getting married on October 23rd.  My husband, Roger, and my daughter, Rylee, were going to be standing up.  Family came in from out of state.  My brothers and sisters and their spouses and children all were at the wedding.  Jared was the only one not in attendance. 

This bothered me quite a bit.  I dreaded the family picture of us all because Jared was not there.  The whole time spent with family I felt something was missing, Jared. 

Jared’s graduation was quickly approaching.  Jared had written me at one time, “time seems to be going by quickly and yet so slowly at the same time.”  I know exactly what he meant. 

I wanted to be at Paris Island as soon as possible.  It was going to be awesome.  We had a large group of family that was going to meet in South Carolina for Jared’s graduation.  I was so excited that so much family was doing this to support Jared.  We received our pass to go on base in the mail.  YES – it was almost over.

April Agle works in WUSF’s business office and among her many duties, she helps me and other staff with Human Resource issues. Her other contributions:

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A Boot Camp Marine’s First Letter Home

Already signed up for the Marine Delayed Enlistment Program, Jared Agle and his parents, April and Roger Agle, celebrate his graduation from Zephyrhills High School, 2010.

By April Agle, a new Marine Mom

I remember thinking that there was so much that I wanted Jared to know before he left.  I wanted him to remember that even when he thinks he is alone, that God is always, always with him.  I had these fears of the drill instructors tearing down Jared’s self confidence.  I wanted him to remember that no matter what anyone says that he is a wonderful person.  I wanted him to know that he was likely to get home sick and that it was okay.  We would be praying for him and that the separation would only be for just over 12 weeks.

I remember Jared telling me he did not want me to go to the Recruiter’s Office to drop him off on Sunday.  At first, I was crushed and yes, my feelings were hurt.  It took me a bit to figure out why he did not want me to go with him.  It was more than he was afraid I would embarrass him – I figured it out – if I cried he would cry and he did not want to do that in front of anyone especially another Marine or another Recruit. 

Jared Agle the day he was dropped off at the Recruiter's Office, August 8, 2010.

So I told him I was going, all of us were taking him, and I promised not to embarrass him.  I made a point of speaking positive and smiling on our way to the Recruiter’s  Office on Sunday.  I was Miss Positive Attitude with no crying.  We go to the Recruiter’s and only the Recruiter was there.  We all hugged Jared.  I held him tight and told him I was so proud of him and that I knew he would be an excellent Marine.  And then we left him. 

Wow.  I felt a huge weight.  Roger,  Rylee and I were all very stoic and I think we were containing our emotions.  All it would take was for one of us to let loose and we would all lose it.  I guess we were being strong for each other.

The plan was that Jared was to stay in a hotel in Tampa and on Monday morning he would go to fill out his final paperwork and then board a bus heading to Paris Island, South Carolina.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 11:00pm Roger’s phone rang.  Roger barely said hello and you could hear Jared almost shouting in a shaky voice.  “Recruit Agle has reached destination Paris Island.  Please do not attempt to contact me. Please do not send any bulky packages. …. That is all”.  And he hung up. 

You could tell he was reading a script of some kind.  Wow and that was it.  Roger and I looked at each other almost in shock.  I was a bit upset because we did not get to tell Jared anything, not I love you, not how was your trip, nothing.  No one really prepared me for that. 

High school senior Jared celebrates his last "spring break" with his younger sister, Rylee, on a family cruise 2010.

I spent a good deal of time over his life teaching Jared the importance of calling or texting me so I knew where he was at.  I found out the Marine’s don’t really care what your mama wants.  So I guess this was a reality check for me.  Jared was going to need a lot of prayer and I was going to do that.

 The house seemed different right away.  Jared had been gone before on trips with the fire department for maybe four days.  This time it was different.  The house was quieter and felt less full somehow.  Jared was not due back for quite a while.

And so we waited.  And we waited.  Every day we checked the mail box.  And we waited some more.  We wondered, we prayed, and we waited some more.  No letter.  Yes – I was a bit unrealistic.  I wanted a letter within days of his leaving with his address so I could send him mail.  The day Jared left I started writing him.  A paragraph each day so he would be aware that he was not out of our thoughts.  And so the training of a Marine’s mother began.

The people that I work with are just terrific and they have helped me each step of the way.  I constantly was talking about Jared and they listened.  Everyone has been very supportive.  I work with a lot of veterans and former military.  They would share stories with me and were always available to listen to me. Without this tolerance and support, I think I would have gone crazy.  It was very helpful to be able to talk about Jared.  I appreciate their on-going interest in Jared’s career, it means so much to me.

Finally, one week later, we received something in the mail with Jared’s writing on the envelope.  We were thrilled only to be somewhat disappointed.  It was a form letter.  But,  it had his address finally also, a whole list of what not to send.  The only hand written note was a line that said ‘Can send Cliff bars’.  Okay excellent something to do for the mom who is missing her son. 

The banner reads "See You in Two Weeks." October 2010, Jared's family gathered for a wedding, the first big family event without him. This photo was taken to let Jared know his family was thinking of him.

I had a mission and I was glad of it.  The only problem was that I had no idea what a Cliff bar was, but if my son wanted Cliff bars he was going to get them.  And so I found out that a Cliff bar is a protein bar.  We mailed them to him the next day and I felt relieved that I was able to do something. 

 I now had Jared’s address and another ‘mom to do’ thing which I so wanted.   I made up mailing labels for his grandparents and everyone.  The address is quite a big address so I thought labels would help everyone.  I have some advice for anyone that is sending their child to boot camp – make address labels.  I made up return address labels for Jared’s boot camp address and mailing labels of our home address so he send us mail.  Jared said these were wonderful because he never had much time and he was tired and rushed.  The labels saved him time.  Also, send stamps.  They don’t really have time to buy stamps and who wants to wait on them to get around to buying postage. 
Mail became our link to Jared.  Our family used to go 3-4 days before we would check the mail.  Now, we were checking the mail every day.We finally received a hand written real letter from Jared a couple of days after the form letter.  We all got teary and I think we read and discussed his letter for days.  He had a ‘p.s.’ at the bottom of the letter that said, “Went to church. I look forward to going Sunday.”  I was pleased about this and knew it would help Jared.  I also know that he probably was only going to church because it got him away from the drill instructors.  But hey he was going to church no matter the reason.

April Agle works in WUSF’s business office and among her many duties, she helps me and other staff with Human Resource issues. Her other contributions:

In Training to Become a Marine Mom

A Marine Mom Lets Go a Week Early

Here’s a link to WUSF’s  first story when Jared graduated boot camp.

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