THE SALMON FAM­ILY

201 Family - - SERVICE PARENTS -

Along with the stress of hav­ing a loved one over­seas, mil­i­tary fam­i­lies are of­ten up­rooted, mov­ing from base to base and con­stantly forced to start over. Shortly af­ter mar­ry­ing in 2005, Army Cap­tain Richard Salmon and his wife, Melissa, who met at Ber­gen­field High School, re­lo­cated to mil­i­tary bases through­out the coun­try.

“We were liv­ing in Hawaii in 2011 when Richard de­ployed to Afghanistan and our daugh­ter, Katie, was only 5 months old,” Melissa says from her home in Mid­land Park. “Hav­ing a baby is so hard, and then to have your part­ner leave is ter­ri­fy­ing. I was in Hawaii by my­self with an in­fant, and I’d wake up wondering if he was still alive.”

Melissa went back to her mother’s New Jer­sey home for sev­eral months un­til Richard re­turned, but it wasn’t the last time she’d face a dev­as­tat­ing de­ploy­ment.

“The next time he left, Katie was 3, and they had a real re­la­tion­ship. She just didn’t un­der­stand,” Melissa says. “She was so sad and con­fused. She’d cry all the time and I’d break down and cry with her. But we lived at a South Jer­sey base this time so I had fam­ily sup­port close by.”

Melissa kept a sticker count­down with Katie un­til Richard’s 2014 home­com­ing. “I was wor­ried she wouldn’t ac­cept him back into her life right away, but when she saw him, her face lit up and she ran across the air­port into his arms,” she says. “And they’ve been in­sep­a­ra­ble ever since.”

That will make it even harder if Richard is de­ployed again as an Army Re­serve. “Katie’s so scared of him leav­ing again,” Melissa says. “For a while, even if he just went to get a hair­cut, she’d ask if Daddy’s com­ing back. I think it would be trau­matic for her, so I’m pray­ing it doesn’t hap­pen.”

Though be­com­ing a Re­serve put Richard at risk for an­other de­ploy­ment, he feels his mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence is in­valu­able. “I’m do­ing some­thing that can have such a large im­pact in the world,” says Richard, who be­lieves that mil­i­tary ser­vice has given his fam­ily a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life.

“It re­ally shows you what’s im­por­tant,” he says. “All the lit­tle things we get caught up with in our daily lives, you just re­al­ize what matters.”

“I WAS WOR­RIED SHE WOULDN’T AC­CEPT HIM BACK INTO HER LIFE RIGHT AWAY, BUT WHEN SHE SAW HIM, HER FACE LIT UP AND SHE RAN ACROSS THE AIR­PORT INTO HIS ARMS.” MELISSA SALMON MID­LAND PARK

DADDY’S LIT­TLE GIRL Katie Salmon wel­comes her dad home in Septem­ber of 2011; fa­ther and daugh­ter Face­time to stay close; Katie and her mom cre­ated a count­down board to mark the days un­til Rich’s re­turn. 31

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