Back to Military Life

Irene and Issac

A story of love, sacrifice and appreciation

The Williams family ??" Irene, Issac, Lilli and Issac, IV ??" pause before a quick game of basketball. Photo credit: Jessica Corey-Butler

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

A soldier and a female airman met in Korea in 1995. Love brought them together,  and sacrifice kept them together as they grew a family.  Now, one wants to recognize the other for all those years of service and sacrifice.  

"Most military families consist of the husband being in the military and the wife being the dependent, but not us; we are a little unique," said Master Sgt. Irene Williams, a chaplain's assistant with 627th Air Base Group/Chapel.  "My husband Issac and I met in Korea while he was active-duty Army and (I was) active-duty Air Force back in 1995; Korea (was) both our first assignments directly after tech school/AIT.  When our time was up, he went to Georgia and I went to Virginia, but (we) kept a long-distance relationship going."

For two years in the late 90s - before Skype and texting were in full bloom - the couple kept their relationship alive with occasional eight-hour drives between Georgia and Virginia to see each other. After getting married in 2000, Irene received orders to Okinawa, Japan.  The closest Issac could have been stationed to her was in Korea.

"We  ... decided one of us should separate because we did not want to do the dual military lifestyle, especially two different branches," Irene said. "Well, the Air Force lifestyle won, and he separated while I remained in the Air Force."

The two of them reflect, "It was decision time. We wanted to raise a family... It was important for one of us to be home with the children."

Irene allows that, with Child Development Centers and external family supports, the dual military family can work for people, but they chose to minimize complications.

"He sacrificed a lot," Irene mused.

In Okinawa, after their first child, Issac, IV, was born, Issac, III,  or Ike, as Irene calls him, was up all night working graveyard shifts stocking jobs outside of his bachelor of science degree in restaurant management.  He recalls being denied time off as a restaurant assistant manager when Irene was due with baby Issac. He quit that job on the spot, and chose to work through the night, which left him with enough energy to be a good parent by day. His motivation was doing, "whatever worked for my family."

"What is great about my husband is that in addition to working through the night, being home with our children before and after school to help them with homework, chaperoning field trips, being at all their school activities and extracurricular activities, he started volunteering to coach basketball as soon as our children became old enough to play and never stopped coaching," Irene said. " To him, it was more time he (could) be involved with our children's lives."  

"Now, we are stationed at JBLM," Irene continues, "and he now devotes four hours of his time every single Saturday volunteering to coach our children as well as 30 other children in Billups Energy Basketball Skills Camp. (He focuses) on the fundamentals and skills children need to play basketball.  He primarily works with children from ages 5-13 and helps them build (the) confidence, skills, abilities and fundamentals needed for them to go out and try out for their school basketball teams or AAU teams.  He does this even while working five days a week from 7 p.m. to (midnight), and (he is) still involved with our children's after-school activities and homework while being the greatest husband in the world and keeping up with our military lifestyle ... with my TDYs, deployments and other military responsibilities."

As a male stay-at-home parent, Issac said he will sometimes get "the look" from people.

"It's not like you have an apron on, " he responds.

As for funds, he said, "you're putting everything in one pot," whether the male or female earns the bulk of those funds. The Williams view the family unit as a team, unified by the "God and family first" motto.  As for any negative speculations from others, he ultimately asks the question, "what age are you living in?"  

"Looking back, you have your days," he said.  He recalls wondering, "should I have stayed in?"

But it's clear - as he reflects about times napping with babies on his chest,  the brutally challenging days of single parenting when Irene was deployed and the moments he shares with them as he coaches and teaches and fathers them - that this is not a job he resents.  

"You enjoy your kids," he said. 

Read next close


Places beyond the stars

comments powered by Disqus