Vicki Cody is the author of the new book Fly Safe: Letters from the Gulf War and Reflections from Back Home. It focuses on her family's experiences while her husband was serving in the first Gulf War. Her other books include Army Wife. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Q: What inspired you to write Fly Safe, and what impact did the Gulf War have on you and your family?
A: My first memoir, Army Wife, encompasses 33 years of marriage and my life as an Army wife. While writing that book, I looked through so much memorabilia, to include some of my husband’s letters from Desert Storm, but with so much material to cover, I could only spend a little time on the Gulf War.
I always felt I had so much more to say about that time and that particular deployment. It was a time when written letters were the only form of communication for me and my husband.
That year, 1990-1991, was monumental for me in terms of growth and self-discovery as a wife and as a mother; my husband made military history that charted the course of the rest of his career; and at the same time, it was a coming of age for our two young sons, putting dreams in their heads of one day following in their dad’s footsteps.
Q: Did you need to do any additional research to write the book, or did you rely mostly on your letters and memories?
A: I kept very detailed journals during the deployment. Those coupled with the 94 letters from my husband, two scrapbooks filled with newspaper and magazine articles, and a really good memory, I was able to construct most of the story on my own.
My husband was a great source for the technical things. And I interviewed a couple of the pilots that went on the mission with him, for even more insight. I read countless articles and thanks to Google and YouTube, I was able to pull up actual footage of my husband’s mission, Task Force Normandy.
Q: As the wife and mother of military officers, what do you hope readers take away from your story?
A: I hope to give readers a glimpse of military life with all of its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and at the same time, shine the spotlight on the families who are every bit as courageous as those in uniform.
There are no books (that I could find) written about the Gulf War from the wife’s perspective. I want to give readers a behind the scenes look at that particular time in history and how the events of the Gulf War unfolded. I want readers to get a sense of what it is like to have your loved one in a combat zone.
Q: What does your family think of the book?
A: My husband loves what I write and how I write it. He read my chapters as I wrote them and he was amazed at the things I remembered and the things that he had forgotten. It gave him insight into my world during those nine months that he was gone.
Our sons enjoy reading about their dad and reliving their childhoods. They also said they learned a lot about that year from my perspective. They are still serving on active duty so it is important to me that what I write about is real, honest, and accurate because they are living the life.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working with a screenwriter in LA, who approached me a few years ago, to write a screenplay for my first memoir, Army Wife. It is slow going for me as it is a different way of writing and a different way of looking at my book, but I love the challenge of it. I have no idea where or what it will lead to, but I decided to give it a try.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Fly Safe is not just for military spouses and it is not just about the Gulf War.
While that is the subject matter, I write about so much more: learning to trust in yourself, how to face life’s challenges and become stronger for them, how to make a happy life for you and those around you even during scary and stressful times, how to face demons and come out on top. It is also a book that men will enjoy as I give my husband’s perspective of life in a combat zone.
Ultimately, it is a story about enjoying the simple pleasures and sweet moments in life and to never take for granted the power of love to sustain us.
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--Interview with Deborah Kalb