Marriage Under Fire: Military Couples
Lori and Jeffrey
Air Force Captain Lori Caloia, MD, 30
Air Force Major Jeffrey Ray, 38
Married 2 Years
One early morning over Iraq, Jeffrey Ray's F-15 fighter jet was taking on fuel, tethered in midair to a tanker, which refuels other planes while in flight. He glanced up and spotted his wife, a flight surgeon, in the tanker's cockpit. "The sun was just coming up, and I could see Lori looking down at me," he recalls. "We could hear each other's voices on the radio."
Since Air Force regulations forbid married personnel from living together during deployment, that moment was one of the most intimate the couple had while overseas. Nor was any physical contact permitted between Jeff, a weapons systems officer, and Lori, a physician who cares for flight crews: They weren't even allowed to see the inside of each other's living quarters.
"I couldn't hold Lori's hand, stroke a strand of hair out of her face, or just be alone with her," says Jeff. "Not being able to be together as a married couple was the toughest thing." He flew mostly at night, when Lori was asleep. In the mornings she'd find a note from him pushed under the door: "I made it home all right. I love you."
Ironically, the situation brought them closer, says Lori. "Overall I would much rather be deployed with my spouse than without him."
The first morning they woke up on their return to the United States was like a dream, Jeff recalls. "She was in my arms, and I kissed her good morning. We didn't have Champagne, but we didn't need it."