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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2012

Spouses take flight with 99th FTS members

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

The 99th Flying Training Squadron hosted its annual Spouse Appreciation Day Oct. 5, a time for the group to say "thank you" by way of celebration and orientation flights for their significant others.

The gathering allowed spouses to see where their military loved ones report for duty, but was mostly an opportunity to highlight and express gratitude to squadron spouses for their behind-the-scenes contributions, Lt. Col. Gavin Marks, 99th FTS commander, said.

"We wanted to show how much we appreciate the support they give to the military every single day," Marks said. "With this event, we wanted to 'wow' them."

Twenty-five spouses attended, including those of reservists with the 99th FTS. Each spouse wore their respective partner's flight suit and received a specially made name patch.

Most of the spouses boarded a celebratory flight on a T-1A Jayhawk, three spouses per flight, over a 200-mile route that passed through the Hill Country, Enchanted Rock at Fredericksburg, and Austin, Maj. Alan Coker, 99th FTS T-1 instructor pilot, said.

Spouses also manned simulator flights, or artificially re-created flights taking place in identical cockpit mockups accurate in size, shape and appearance to T-1s, Coker said.

For Rachel Zohn, wife of Maj. John Zohn, her first time attending the event allowed her to leave children at home with her husband and network with other military spouses, who experience common sacrifices within marriage, including frequent relocation, career adjustments and sometimes being the primary caretaker of children when the other military parent is away.

Zohn said spouses of military members have to be "willing to do the hard work to keep a marriage alive," and offered encouragement to other military spouses.

"Appreciate everything you have and try not to dwell on the daily grind," she said. "Accept the life you choose, and embrace every good moment."

Elizabeth Johnson, wife of Lt. Col. Oliver Johnson, agreed, adding that "patience and understanding" are two virtues that help her military marriage survive.

"Communication isn't key; it's everything," she added

Spouse appreciation days are examples of resources available to improve quality of life for military couples, Deborah Marks, wife of the 99th FTS commander, said.

"Some people tend to shy away from taking advantage of support offered by squadrons and organizations," she said. "But establishing relationships with other spouses and service members as quickly as possible means you'll always have a shoulder to lean on."