Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Military Couple Welcomed

The road home to Minden was paved with patriotism and warm welcome for husband and wife, Senior Airmen Phillip and Caitlyn Striplin, who are visiting Minden while on leave to travel to their next duty station.

Neighbors near the home of Phillip's mother helped welcome the newlywed couple by placing flags and patriotic ornaments including large signs and banners in their yards and along the street.

"It was pretty cool that everybody did that," Caitlyn said. "That's not very common back home. When guys come home, they (neighbors) don't really say that much or make a big deal out of it."

But, as shown by their actions, for family members and neighbors in Minden it is a big deal when veterans return home, even if it is just for a visit.

"It has been a long two years," Lisa Carlson, Phillips mother, said. "It feels good for them to be home."

The couple has been based in Japan while going on deployments, including two to Iraq.

"We just came home from Japan, and we are on our way to our next duty station," Phillip said. "We haven't been home since Christmas of 2009."

The couple met in Japan and deployed together to Iraq, came back to Japan where they married in August and then deployed again to Iraq and returned to Japan in April.

"We were home (in Japan) for a month before we deployed again," Caitlyn said.

Phillip has been a Crew Chief on F-16's and Caitlyn works in Air Crew Flight Equipment.

The couple is taking time to introduce their spouse to their families for the first time.

"This is the first time I have met his family," Caitlyn said. After spending a week getting to know Phillip's family, Caitlyn will take him to meet her family in Oklahoma.

After the two weeks are up, the couple must report to their next duty station in Tucson, Arizona.

Phillip has been in the Air Force for nearly three years while Caitlyn has been in for two.

The couple does not have any defined future plans at the moment.

"I still have three years before my enlistment is up," Phillip said. "I'll finish that up and see what is ahead after that."

Phillip said he joined the Air Force because he was looking for "something else."

"I didn't want to go to college then, but wanted to do something," he said, noting that he worked in the oil field before he joined. "I figured it was just time to do something else."

Growing up with parents in the military influenced Caitlyn's decision to serve.

"My dad was in the Marines and my mom was in the Navy," she said. "I wasn't ready to go to school yet and it seemed like the thing to do."

Phillip's family also has a history of service; his grandfather and dad have served their country in various capacities.

Though Caitlyn has not had an opportunity to "get to know" Minden, she says it "feels a lot like home."

"In ways it reminds me of home – it's nice here," she said.

"It feels good to be back home for a little while," Phillip said. "It really feels good to be a civilian for a while."

Phillip's mother and sister, Leah Striplin, live in Minden. Phillip's dad, James Striplin, lives in Sibley, as well as grandparents, Ray and Nell McGee.

Caitlyn's parents, Mary and Dean Burnside, reside in Oklahoma.






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