The following Family Dedication was written by Major Vincent Gradney of the 147th Fighter Wing, Ellington Field Texas and was read at the Special Family Service for the Deploying.

Members of Ellington Field, Houston, Texas on Sunday 15 July 2007. Chaplain Mack Praytor stated it was one of the best- attended Services to date. On short notice Major Gradney was asked to present “Words” on Family Dedication during the Service, thanks for this moving message. This was written from his heart and is a compilation of heartfelt issues that were shared with him by other Airmen and Soldiers he served with in Iraq and Kuwait. He also sends a special thank you for the Family Readiness Team for all of your hard work and efforts to help take care of those we care about the most and make doing our job worth fighting for.


I am sorry I had to leave…

But I was called in to harms way…for my country, and to help fight for the freedom of those oppressed.

I am sorry that I wasn’t there when you needed me the most…

To help get the kids ready, to go to and from school, home, and the “matrix schedule” of special activities they are involved in each week.

To help care for our elderly parents and others who depend on us.

To get all of those Home Projects accomplished you needed done.

I am sorry that I wasn’t there when you needed me the most…

When the storm damage came, to help wage war with the insurance company, the adjuster, and contractor for repairs to our home.

When the baby went to the emergency room and was in NICU for over a week and you had no one to turn to.

When you were diagnosed and had your surgery and I couldn’t be there by your side to comfort you.

When the AC broke during the night, the dishwasher overflowed flooding the kitchen, the garage door opener broke and you couldn’t get your car out for days, and the “Killer Bees” moved in to our yard.

I am sorry…

For not being there to answer the kid’s questions that only I could answer.

For not being able to be reached each time you saw something bad on the news about the war and couldn’t reach me to see if I was O.K.

For not being there to hold you when you were lonely, worried, sad, frustrated, hurting, or just needed a friend.

I wasn’t there when you needed me the most.

Yes, I was at war in a hostile place, but I want you to know is how much I appreciate and recognize all that you have had to sacrifice and endure for me, this country, and people a “world” away.

You need to know that…

I prayed for you every night and day.

I prayed for you to have strength, peace, patience and good health. I ask God to protect and keep you and our family safe and secure from all harm and danger. I prayed for you to be restored daily as you faced the “war” at home and endured all the challenges that my absence brought about.

I missed you every time I looked at your pictures and read your letters. I constantly wondered how you all were and if you were O.K.

I did my “Best” for You, my God, and my Country to get the mission accomplished and return home “Safe”, “Sound”, and “Whole” despite sometimes unimaginable conditions and incredible obstacles.

Without you supporting us, this mission would have not been possible, nor worth fighting for.

On the occasion of this Family Day and Deployer Welcome Home, it is with my deepest and most sincere gratitude I want to thank you…

For being the “Rock” that anchored our family while I was away.

For all of the “love” you sent in cards, letters, and packages (Some of you need to apologize to the Postal Service for setting new tonnage records).

For telling me everything was O.K. at home when actually all “hell” was breaking loose!

For being there, waiting patiently on me to “eventually” get home with an incredible smile and open and loving arms to receive my tired soul.

For making me feel like a “Hero” when in reality it’s actually You that’s the “Hero” because you sacrificed the most so that I could do this job that I do!

And finally, Thank You to the Family Readiness Team, volunteers, friends and neighbors that helped keep the “Home Front” going while we were away, and gave our families the additional support and care they needed when we couldn’t be there.

I am sorry I had to leave…but I am so glad you all were here for me!

Written from the Hearts of all the Airmen and Soldiers who’ve deployed,
Vincent J. Gradney, Major, 147FW, TXANG.

P.S. We are home now, but let us not forget about all those who remain in “Harm’s Way.”
Do something today to help care for the families of “Our” deployed Troops!

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