My wife and I were married today December 27, 1986, 34 years ago and on this day in Custer South Dakota it was 65 degrees outside. The reason I mention this is because anyone familiar with the Dakota’s know that our winters are normally cold and snowy, yet this day it was not. We started off with me working at a local Piggly Wiggly making 3.35 per hour, working 36 hours a week and going to college full-time in a town an hour away called Rapid City. In January we become pregnant with our first son Jonathan James, who is now a priest in our diocese. Life went on with me working and going to college and Jonathan getting bigger. Then in January 1989 our second son was born, Steven Tyler who is now an MP in the Army at Ft. Hood Texas with his wife and two of my granchildren, Michael and Macie.
In April of 1990, I entered the Army and after basic training and AIT I was sent to Germany on Thanksgiving Day of 1990. On February 14th of 1991, my wife and two sons came over to our home in Prum, Germany. My family was with me until 1993 when my pregnant wife of 6 moths had to fly back with my two sons before she was too far along to fly. Our 3rd child, Joseph Daniel was born at Ellsworth AFB. He has graduated with his Masters in Social Work and lives in Wyoming. I would not come home for another year.
When I finally came home in 1994, I picked up my family and went to Ft. Hood Texas and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. We were there from 1994 to 1997 and our first daughter Catherine Elizabeth, was born at Ft. Hood. She just got engaged and lives in Rapid City with her fiance Stephen and three of my grandchildren, Aullora, Adyson, and Jayden. Then in the summer of 1997 I had orders coming down to go to Korea, which at this time was an 18 month un-accompanied tour. I decided that I did not want to be apart form my family for that long so I was due for another enlistment, so I signed up for another 4 and asked for Germany. Meanwhile as she had always done, my family ran the household and did a fine job in raising the children. I could not have done any of this without her.
In 1997 my family and I went back to Germany, actually right back to the unit that three years ago I had left. We were there from 1997 to 1999 when my entire unit moved back to Ft. Bliss. During our time in Germany our 5th child, Breanna Mai was born in Landstuhl, Germany.
Arriving at Ft. Bliss Texas in July of 1997 was one of my most unpleasant assignments and it was hard for my family as well. If it were not for my wife again, I do not know how it would have ended. She held us altogether and it was her strength that kept it together as after my injury I saw my time winding down with the military. I was medically discharged December 17, 2001 from the Army. During our time at Ft. Bliss two more kiddos came along, Number 6 Hannah Maria, who is engaged and lives in Texas and Thomas Alexander who lives in Custer.
We have been living in Custer since December of 2001. During this time we bought a trailer and Anthony Michael came along as child 8. He is a senior in high school. However with the addition we had to find a house and so we bought a house in 2005. Since then Carolynn Ann, number 9, Terasa Rennee, number 10, and Ruby Rose, number 11 were all born in Rapid City. I went to college, worked for awhile until the VA permanently retired me. My wife works as a DSP in Rapid City. During the 34 years that we have been together, she has been the rock of the family, especially in our time in the military. She has been and always will be the love of my life. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her and I fall in love with her more and more everyday.
She has given me 11 beautiful children and many happy memories. She has helped me with my, our faith and kept me on track. Many good years and many more to come. I cannot wait for the years to come. Thank you Kim for saying Yes, thank you for being by my side. I love you now and forever.