Warren County High School sophomore Allison Cripps says having her father deployed to a war zone brings with it a high level of concern.
She knows the feeling well as her dad, Air Force Col. Jason Cripps, has been away from home on military deployments her entire life.
Allison got to tell of her life experiences recently during a conference in Murfreesboro where an estimated 700 soldiers and airmen were in attendance, in addition to Gov. Bill Haslam. The conference was held at Embassy Suites.
“My talk was on military children and some of the troubles they have with a parent being away from home,” said Allison, who talked for a few minutes. “I tried to stay positive throughout the speech.”
Allison received the honor to speak as a member of Youth Action Council, a group composed of some 30,000 youths of military families throughout Tennessee. The group works on identifying and addressing issues that have an impact on military youth.
Allison and fellow student Claire McClanahan were both given the chance to address the soldiers in Murfreesboro.
As for Col. Cripps, he has been with the Air Force as a pilot for 31 years. His most recent deployment was to Afghanistan in November where he spent about two weeks transporting injured soldiers to a hospital in Germany.
“It’s improving slowly, but my fear is Afghanistan is going to go back to the way it was when we leave,” said Col. Cripps. “The attacks slow in the winter because everything is frozen and they can’t get their supplies through the mountain passes, but they pick up when things start to thaw.”
Col Cripps flew a C-17, a large transport aircraft, on his most recent mission. He said a key is slipping into the area undetected.
“A C-17 costs hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Col. Cripps. “They’re not going to leave it sitting out on a ramp for fear it might get hit by a rocket launcher. We’d slip in at night under the cover of darkness, pick them up and haul them to Germany.”
Col. Cripps said he’s been all over the globe to a number of hostile regions including Iraq, Panama, Colombia, Bosnia and Somalia.
“I’ve been all over the world and it’s been very rewarding,” said Cripps. “The thing that’s been the hardest is the time I’ve been away from home.”
While not providing a date, Col. Cripps said, “I’m pretty close to retirement.”