by Kayla Barnes
Being away from family can be difficult, especially if you are an entire country and an ocean away.
Captain Brenda Martin of the United States Air Force has been stationed at Osan Air Base in the county of Pyeongtaek, South Korea for the past year.
She came back and surprised her children, Amelie, 5, and Anders, 4, at Belmont Elementary School where they attend Kindergarten and Pre-K.
Staff and teachers at the school helped coordinate getting the kids together, telling them a special person was going to stop by to read to them.
A ‘Welcome Home’ cake was made and the students created an American flag on a white bed sheet, using their hands to create the stars and stripes. The students were also asked to wear red, white and blue.
Martin, who is a Belmont alumni, could not pass up the opportunity to surprise the kiddos on Friday, December 18, the day before she told them she would be home.
“It’s just hard to ‘parent’ through a screen,” Martin said addressing the use of technology she uses to communicate with her kids.
Martin joined the Air Force in May 2009 when she was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant as a ROTC graduate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
“I joined to serve, travel the world and to challenge myself.”
From there she was stationed in Germany for three years, then Minot, North Dakota for two years and now returning from South Korea. She and her children are headed to New Mexico for the next step in her journey.
She works for the Air Force as a Logistics Officer. She helps move, track and load supplies and people all around the world. In South Korea, she was a liaison for the ROKAF (Republic of Korea Air Force) counterparts and assisted them with their specific mission priorities.
“I was attached to a unit with a variety of different mission sets. I was able to integrate with weather, air support and logistics personnel.”
In New Mexico, she will be the Director of Operations of the 49 MMSS (Materiel Maintenance Support Squadron).
But being all over Korea, seeing the DMZ (demilitarized zone), which separates the North and South, to hiking Mt. Aspan in Daegu, doesn not compare to being back with her kids.
“I am loving it! It’s amazing what you take for granted when you’ve been away. I enjoyed the experience, but I am excited about being home and having some sense of normal life for a little bit.”
Before they take the 18 hour trip down to New Mexico, the Martin’s will spend time with family for the holidays and adjust to having each other back again.
Martin plans to serve 20 years in the Air Force. She hopes to one day find herself in Europe again or potentially even Japan.
“I love the people. And no matter where I go, who I meet, I always learn something new or find a way to better myself. There’s a sense of belonging that’s comforting, even when you’re the ‘new guy.’”
But for now she will enjoy her time being back with family.