For sixteen years I believed in this novel. Snarled at rejection. Revised. Raised two sons. Sold stories to national magazines. Stayed true to my dream of finding a traditional publisher. And then it happened. On my 50th birthday. Then USA Today, The Associated Press, & Military Times took notice. And now almost six years after the original publication, my little book that grew wings and learned to fly is back in paperback and e-book.
This essay first appeared in Air Force Times, 2/19/89. After the story ran, I became a frequent contributor to Military Times. This opened the door for my future work atFamily Circle Magazine.
On The Home Front: It’s a sign That Daddy’s in charge
I fear some generals would scoff and full-bird colonels balk if they knew the truth – that Daddy is running their Air Force. At least that’s how it looks in the Tactical Air Command, from the perspective of two Air Force brats.
According to these experts on insignia, my 2-and 4-year-old sons, the blue, red and yellow TAC patch seen everywhere on our base belongs to a Very Important Person: D-A-D-D-Y! They don’t mind that others are wearing it, but they know that any man or woman in uniform bears “Daddy’s patch.”
Living on base, we cannot walk to a corner without the 2-year-old freezing in his tracks, pointing up to the street sign and firing off a round of “Daddy’s! Daddy’s!” He continues his verbal strafing until I’m forced to agree that, “Yes, honey, it’s Daddy’s patch.”
Frankly, I never noticed the TAC emblem displayed on every street sign on base until the baby started talking. Before then, I thought he was just pointing up at the birds and clouds and the usual airplanes. Daddy flies them. Every airplane within range is Daddy’s, according to the 2-year-old. The 4-year-old is smarter now. “That isn’t Daddy up there, silly goose! Daddy is fishing,” or home in bed sleeping. On rare occasions, he’s even at the office. By the way, wing headquarters belongs to Daddy, as does any building with a TAC patch displayed on the premises.
One day while the boys and I were driving down a street on base, both of them broke out in unison, craning their necks upward and pointing, saying, “Daddy, Daddy!” I was looking out the windows, attempting to keep the car on the road, searching the wild blue yonder for Daddy. The only planes I could see were the ones grounded on the ramp. Then I caught a glimpse of “Daddy’s patch” high up on the water tower. I started realizing then how much that emblem really meant to the boys.
Another example was recently when I rushed our youngest to the emergency room after he tried unsuccessfully to tackle a rose bush. He was distraught, but not from the injury to his eye. He hasn’t been too keen on hospitals and doctors lately because of repeated visits to the emergency room (he has one speed – Mach 1 – and he’s always banging and bumping into something).
I tried calming him, rocking him, only to hear him scream at the top of his lungs, “Home! Me go home, Mom.”
I decided then, out of respect for the other patients, to walk him up and down the corridor. “Home, Mom,” he was saying and pointing to the nearest exit when suddenly he changed gears and shrieked, “Daddy’s patch!” referring to a tiny TAC sticker on the hospital wall. That little sticker was my saving grace and his, because from then on, he tried to be a big boy, like brother, braving it out while a med-tech flushed the injured eye with two bags of saline solution.
My respect for the patch rose even higher after that. It makes my boys feel happy and secure – like a small shield of armor in a world built for grown-ups. If Daddy wears that patch every day, then seeing it elsewhere is a good sign that Daddy can’t be too far away.
~ Kathleen M. Rodgers is the author of the award-winning novel,The Final Salute , featured in USA Today and ranked # 1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction in 2012. The novel has been reissued byDeer Hawk Publicationsin e-book and print September 2014. The story takes place at a fictionalized England AFB, La. The base closed in 1992 and was part of Tactical Air Command. Her new novel,Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press February 1, 2015.