Wrapped in a blanket, I sat staring out my bedroom window, watching fat snowflakes slowly fall. My eyelids were heavy from exhaustion but I was determined to stay awake. It was Thursday and Nick told me he’d try to call that week- I couldn’t fall asleep in case he did.
It had been one month since he deployed to Kandahar; two since we married. I hadn’t spoken with him since the day he left Wisconsin for Fort Bragg, but I had a feeling I’d hear from him that night.
Just after 2:00 a.m. the phone rang. It was a blocked number so it had to be him. As I answered, a loud rush of sounds overwhelmed my quiet room. I waited for his voice but it never came- instead I heard a meek, trembling whimper from a woman on the other end, saying there had been an accident.
“There was an accident on base. We don’t have all the information, but men have been killed and we can’t locate your husband. We’ll call again when we learn more.”
A sudden rush of anger and grief came over me. Why would this woman call if she couldn’t say where Nick was? When will I know? What happened… should I call Nick’s parents?
I sat in the dark unsure of what to do next. If Nick was hurt or killed, his parents needed to know, but if he was fine, how could I deliver such devastating news just to take it back?
No other calls came through for the next hour. Two hours. Every moment brought more fear, uncertainty, and grief so I decided to pull on my boots and walk across the street to tell Nick’s parents. We sat together the rest of the night, praying for his safety and the safety of all the soldiers with him.
Just as the sun came up, my phone rang. It was Nick to say he was okay, but two men had been killed in a firefight at his COP and he was unsure what was happening or when he’d be able to call me again. As he spoke, he could hear me crying, so he paused- then said, “I’ll never leave you, but if someone takes me from you, find peace in knowing that it was my honor to live and die for you.”
By God’s grace, Nick returned home safely six months later.
During this Military Appreciation Month, it’s my greatest honor to recognize a man of high character, fortitude, and strength; my husband, Sergeant Nicholas Tieman of the 82nd Airborne Division. He’s a hero to me, our families, and everyone who knows him, and it is men like him who make our nation truly great.