Family carries on as soldier deploys to Iraq
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
Singling out her husband from the balcony above the RCA Hoosier
Dome floor where 3400 soldiers were dressed exactly alike, was
easy for Melissa Gotts. Look at the way he walks,
she noted to their daughter, Michaela. That was the only thing
that was easy about the day last week when they said goodbye to
a husband, father, and friend for a year as he made his departure
SFC David R. Gotts is not new to the Indiana National Guard. He
joined when he was just a senior in high school in 1986. Upon
graduation from South Ripley Jr. Sr. High School in 1987 he began
basic training and has never looked back. He and Melissa (Baugh)
got together in 1989, and were married in 1991. She noted that
she knew he loved the military and accepted that. Its
always just been a way of life for us, she told The Versailles
Republican this week. Both are former Ripley County residents.
Their daughter has been raised knowing her dad goes to the guard
on some weekends, a couple of weeks in the summer, and had an
extended duty (three years active) at Camp Atterbury recently
when many in his unit from Madison were deployed to Iraq. He trained
soldiers on various weaponry. But, it wasnt like we
couldnt see him sometimes, Melissa noted. This
will be a lot different, she noted, saying the full impact
probably hasnt hit home just yet. She does know that they
are already feeling the pain of not being able to celebrate the
January and February birthdays together.
As for how Michaela feels, her mother said shes tough, but
after all, her dads her hero, best friend, someone
she plays football with. It will be tough for the gutsy
sixth grader. Her mother says she attends Sand Creek Elementary
School in North Vernon where her teacher has people in the military
and is maybe more understanding than some.
Now knowing shell be dad and mom both for their daughter
doesnt overwhelm Melissa, who says she is so proud of her
husband that this is the least she can do. She noted that he has
a shirt that explains what a guardsman is. Words like: loyalty,
duty, respect, selflessness, honor, integrity, personal courage,
are words she said describes her husband and a lot of the
guys I know in the guard. She says soldiers serving in the
National Guard are a close knit group that watch each others
backs and when the going gets tough, they (guards) get going.
Melissa backs her husbands decision to remain in the National
Guard even when he could have retired. She said it was a mutual
decision. I knew when I met him what he liked to do and
I wouldnt try to change that, she said.
The Gotts family now live in rural North Vernon where Melissa
and Michaela will keep the home fires burning until their soldier
is safely home. We have a lot of support from area families
who are facing the same situation, Melissa stated. She is
thankful for her husbands employer, Toyota Industrial Equipment
Manufacturing, who is carrying the familys insurance while
hes gone. The Toyota family has backed us 110%
she noted, adding, were very fortunate. Her
husband has been with the Walesboro company for 17 years where
he is a team leader in machining.
Melissa said the send off ceremony in Indianapolis was impressive,
maybe a little long, but she truly appreciated the Patriot Guard
Riders who took their stand for patriotism. It meant the
most to me to know those guys would be there if needed.
She noted that a friend who had been to Iraq on a couple tours
said the last deployment was fairly quiet. She is
hoping that will be the case for her husbands group who
will be running convoys. She knows the seriousness
of war and will be like every other soldiers wife, glad
when he comes back home. She noted that there are others from
the immediate area who have been deployed, including Bill Adams
and Jason Schreiner.
(Editors note: If you know of a soldier from Ripley County
who has recently been deployed to Iraq, you are welcome to contact
our paper with information and a photo to share with our readers
at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 812-689-6364.)
It was a father-daughter moment for SFC David Gotts and
Michaela, as they sat in the stands just before the departure
ceremony began last week in Indianapolis.