My Family!!

My Family!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My FIRST Published Piece!!!!!

Here it is....FINALLY!! My very first "published" piece!! It is the article I wrote for the Ohio National Guard Association. I was afraid they were going to cut it down, let's just say I would be an awful journalist if I was only fiven 500 words!! But they didn't and I am sooooo excited to share the entire article with you! So without further adieu: 

"A Guard Wife's View"

Erin Foster · As my husband David and I stepped off of the
plane in Austin, Texas, I was filled with anticipation and excitement
for another entertaining conference hosted by the
National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).
With a little hesitation and no knowledge of what to expect,
I had accompanied David to his first conference, last year
in Nashville. This year was different; I was feeling like a
seasoned vet.

On our way to Austin we met a wide-eyed woman in the
airport wearing an Air Force T-shirt. After introductions, I
was pleased to find out that Rae was the wife of Ohio Air National
Guard Capt. Bo Cunningham. I was ecstatic, because
last year I had the pleasure of spending time with Tessie
Springer, the wife of Capt. J. R. Springer, and I was hoping
to meet another Ohio wife to enjoy my time with this year.
I was eager to introduce Rae to all of the spousal activities
available at the conference.

We arrived in Austin to real Texan hospitality. There
were tables with refreshments offered while we boarded
the buses that would take us to our respective hotels. Each
state was assigned to a different hotel in downtown Austin,
and we were provided bus transportation to and from the
Conference center, the different activities, and the hotels.
When David and I checked into the Radisson, our room
was not ready. However, to our delight the hospitality suites
were already open. Each state had a hospitality suite supplied
with snacks and beverages to entertain its members
and visitors from other states during downtime throughout
the weekend. We made our way to the suite where col
Ashenhurst, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, and a few other members
of Ohio’s National Guard Association (ONGA) already were
taking advantage of all of the comforts the hospitality room
had to offer. We joined them for some drinks and conversation
until our room was cleaned and ready. We were eager
to prepare ourselves for the night’s festivities.

The first night the company grade officers and field grade
officers went their separate ways. The Company Grade
Mixer was hosted at Deutsches Haus, which had a great indoor/
outdoor environment for socializing. Thanks to donations
by DRASH, we were provided with an open bar of
local wines and beers, including Shiner Bock. We enjoyed
a buffet of brats and brisket, potato salad and coleslaw was
served while a live band performed familiar country songs.
It was our first opportunity to meet and greet couples from
all over the country. 

During this event the tradition of trading the state pins
became noticeable. Each state designs and brings their
own pins and gives each member and their spouse a certain
number to trade with other state members. It is the
perfect opportunity for people to mingle and strike up conversations.
This year Ohio was represented with the Marble
Head Lighthouse complete with its own red blinking
light. The goal was to obtain a pin from each of the fiftyfour
states and territories. Some of the wives made it a little
friendly competition, and came up with some creative
means for filling up their lanyards. I was able to obtain
forty-six states this year.

Although Thursday night was full of activities and socializing,
Friday was the official kickoff of the conference. All
of the exhibits were open for viewing and included everything
from previews of wearable gear to the newest military
technology. While the officers inquired about new gear
for their troops, their spouses took interest in some of the
interactive booths and the free goodies that were up for
grabs. We were able to fire computerized weapons, tour
new combat vehicles and tents, and even create personalized
dog tags. Pens, coffee mugs, T-shirts, kozies, and notepads
were just a few of the goodies I grabbed to add extra
pounds to my suitcase. After taking our first quick tour of
the exhibits, Rae and I headed up to the opening ceremonies.
Last year, I was unaware that spouses were allowed
to attend this portion of the conference, and fully intended
to be present this year.

A local high school’s JROTC performed an impressive
drill team routine to kick off the ceremony. A mariachi band
and country music musicians played songs leading up to
the introduction of the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. He
gave an incredible speech that welcomed everyone to the
great state of Texas, explained all of the future plans for
the Texas National Guard, and jokingly asked the soldiers
present to stay behind and help secure the border.
Immediately following the governor’s speech came the
State Roll Call. Each year, a representative of each state has
sixty seconds to introduce their state. Each one is different.
Some states described their accomplishments in the military,
some rattled off facts in creative ways while throwing
treats into the audience. I made a note that next year
I am going to borrow my husband’s IOTV and ACH for the
State Roll Call. Puerto Rico threw bags of coffee, Louisiana
threw Mardi Gras beads, Texas threw cowboy hats. I was
hit in the head twice by candy corn that Nebraska tossed,
dodged numerous snacks and goodies, and was relieved
when the “Granite State,” New Hampshire, decided not to
throw real granite. Did you know California has more cows
than Texas, and makes more cheese than Wisconsin? Did
you know that Georgia has the biggest party college in the
nation? A few interesting characters accompanied the roll
call of select states. Elvis was in the building, and Maryland
had dancing crabs. Alabama promised that if you visited
their beaches, thanks to BP, you would lie down and stick
to them. All in all, it was very entertaining.

The day was followed by an evening of bull riding, barrel
racing and rodeo clowns. For supper, everyone enjoyed
brisket, rotisserie chicken, and peach cobbler served out of
the back of Conestoga wagons. As if a rodeo wasn’t enough
excitement for the evening, like royalty, we were treated to
a private concert by country music singer Rick Trevino. We
headed back shortly after the concert, and although some
couples decided to check out the night life of Austin, we
headed back to the hotel because David had an early morning
of meetings, and I had a big day of shopping ahead of me.

Saturday morning was the big spouses outing. While
our husbands and wives were busy in meetings, we were
given the option of shopping at the Riverfront in San Antonio,
antique shopping in Austin, or outlet mall shopping
in San Marcos. To our surprise, we were each handed a
twenty-dollar gift card to use on our shopping excursion.
Even though the temperatures were reaching 106 degrees,
Rae and I enjoyed our outlet mall shopping experience.
Some of the spouses enjoyed their free afternoon by lying
out at the hotel pools and relaxing. I was impressed by the
way the spouses were included and entertained through
the long hours our soldiers and airmen were in meetings.

Saturday night was the much-anticipated Hospitality
Night. As I mentioned previously, each state has a suite
that is designated to their members for relaxing and refreshments
during downtime. However, one night out of
the weekend, the rooms were transformed into a room full
of pride for the state. It was their opportunity to brag about
the local foods, display fun decorations representing college
and professional teams, and to entertain visitors from
other states. New York had some of their upstate wines and,
of course, Buffalo wings. Florida had crab dips and a “special
recipe” clam chowder. The SEC football states put their
differences aside and banned together to throw the partyof all hospitality parties at Maggie Mae’s, a local bar. It was a two-story bar opened exclusively to the NGAUS participants.
Music, drinks, dancing and more food was available.
I think I gained fifteen pounds from all of the succulent
brisket I ate.

As the conference was coming to a close, the spouses
were offered a parting gift. They had about fifteen gifts
from which to choose, including longhorn shaped dinner
bells, pewter or sterling silver cuff bracelets, coffee mugs,
and for the culinary lovers present, a book filled with Texas
recipes. Each wife walked away with a souvenir to fit their
own taste and style. Rae chose a beautiful sterling silver
bracelet, and I chose the boot shaped dinner bell that is a
nice addition to my western themed bedroom.

On the last night, Texas sent us out in style. The state’s
dinner is always the last event, and this one was a great
culmination to the 2010 NGAUS Conference. Filet mignon,
stuffed chicken, sweet potatoes and fresh salad were served,
together with bottles of red and white wine. After an enjoyable
meal with the other Ohio junior officers, we were
invited to get a group picture with the Ohio TAG, MG Wayt.
It was the perfect conclusion to the perfect weekend.

I strongly encourage all officers and their spouses to join
us for the 2011 NGAUS Conference in Milwaukee! These
conferences have great professional opportunities for any
officer, and wonderful occasions for spouses to
meet and make lasting friendships. As Rae perfectly articulated,
“I felt not only included, but welcomed into this part
of Bo’s life which is so important to him.” David and I fully
intend to participate. So, you first-timers feel free to hunt
down the bubbly, talkative, red head, and I will be glad to
show you the ropes!


Mrs. Air Force said...

I loved it! It sounds so exciting and I wish I could have gone ;) Go you for being published!!

LetterstoClaire said...

That's so exciting! You did such a great job, I hope you get published again :) Blogging is a fantastic exercise in writing too!

Holly said...

I think you did a great job on it!!


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