There will never be enough words to express everything the members of the United States military do each day to keep America safe. Service members are deployed every day and separated from their families for months or even years. Their only connection to loved ones are emails, texts, and phone calls. Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also hide the details of the life left behind. How much of an entire life can you really see over a video chat? The daily occurrences, small changes, any off screen event is out of sight and out of mind. No one understands this more than Navy seaman, Chris Daugherty.
U.S. Navy Sailor
Chris Daugherty is a U.S. Navy sailor and was set to deploy once again back in January of 2016. He was a veteran of deployment, 2016 was far from his first mission nor his first long stretch away from his family. He was set to be abroad for five months. Tours can last anywhere from two weeks to six months on average, so Daugherty was prepared for a prolonged absence from home.
Prepared or not Daugherty, after setting sail, would find his deployment extended beyond five months. It was the sort of surprise sailors and military personnel often expect. The military trains you for surprises in battle, on mission, on the open sea. The unexpected changes and surprises are more often what seamen meet when they return to land. The shock is what sits off camera, what goes unmentioned over the phone.
Behind every military members is a family stepping up on the home front. As difficult as life is as a member of America’s armed forces those who stay behind have their own challenges. Natasha, Chris Daugherty’s wife, was used to the sacrifices and struggles that come along with the life of a military spouse. Residents of Temecula, California, Chris and Natasha were already the parents of three young children when Chris was deployed in 2016. As hard as deployment was for Natasha, adding three children to the mix had never made the long absences any easier for the couple. Chris understood he would miss far more than holidays when he was at sea. There would be milestones his children would reach that he would never experience. Natasha lived every day knowing that, though Chris worked to protect the country, as well as support his family, the day-to-day struggles of parenting would be hers to bare.
When Daugherty, a Petty Officer, was set to deploy on the USS Vinson, his family joined him amid smiles and tears. Heading off to the Korean Peninsula, Chris would once again set about work as a Navy cryptologic technician. Chris would decipher codes and signals from around the globe but be none the wiser about the details of what was going on in the home he’d left behind. He was employed to work out the codes and communications from around the globe, but it wouldn’t give him any more time to catch up with his wife and young children. The day-to-day details of their lives would remain a mystery to the Petty Officer at sea.