01/31/06 — She's a wife, and an F-15 pilot

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She's a wife, and an F-15 pilot

By Turner Walston
Published in News on January 31, 2006 1:51 PM

Capt. Holly Grant, a pilot with the 335th Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, is filling two roles lately. Not only is she a fighter pilot, but she's also a wife left at home waiting for word from her husband who is stationed overseas.

Capt. Jordan Grant, Holly's husband, deployed for Southwest Asia earlier this month as a pilot with the 336th Fighter Squadron.

Captains Jordan and Holly Grant

submitted photo

Captains Jordan and Holly Grant, shown here at Jordan's graduation from F-15E training, are one of just a few pilot couples in the Strike Eagle community, Holly said.

"It's a really unique situation," Mrs. Grant said. "I know of about five couples in the Strike Eagle community."

Holly, 29, says she enjoys having the same career as her spouse.

"It's great, because you don't have to translate anything," she said. "You have more than enough topics of conversation at the dinner table."

As children in Idaho and North Carolina, respectively, both Jordan and Holly arrived at the same career goal -- and started planning for the life that would bring them together.

"Both Jordan and I individually decided in seventh grade to become pilots in the Air Force," she said.

A native of Greensboro, Holly said postcards from the Air Force Academy inspired her to become a pilot. Years later, the Grants met at the academy on their first day of basic training. They began dating as sophomores. Two days after graduation, they were married.

Jordan's deployment is the first for either. Holly said she's comfortable, knowing the training and personnel her husband has taken with him.

"I feel very confident," she said. "I know the guys are trained well. From firsthand experience, I know they're prepared."

But all that logic sometimes doesn't matter when a wife thinks about her husband who will be away for four months.

"Emotionally, my best friend is on the other side of the world right now," she said.

Holly said she's not really worried, but "there's always concern about change in the environment over there, if things escalate."

Holly keeps up with her husband's unit through her work with the 335th. While most of the 336th is deployed, the remaining pilots are working with the 335th. The squadron is the focal point between the deployed squadron and the other agencies on base.

"We're a 'super squadron' right now," she said.

As a scheduling officer, she said she is dealing with "deployed issues every day."

She says she is able to separate her emotions while at work with the 335th.

"You have to be able to do that," she said.

Holly and Jordan have exchanged work-related and personal e-mails, and talked on the telephone a few times.

With her husband deployed, it could be easy to become overwhelmed with work, Holly said.

"I'm trying not to be. I'm trying to come home and have my own hobbies."

Together, the Grants built a single-engine aircraft over more than seven years. Just before he deployed, Jordan got to see it fly for the first time.

At home, Holly enjoys spending time with Gateway, the cat that adopted the Grants while they were in Texas, and reading about global politics.

Holly also leans on the other wives of 336th Fighter Squadron members. The 336th Fighter Squadron is nicknamed the Rockets. Their wives call themselves the "Rockettes," Holly said.

"I still rely on my girlfriends," she said. "I am a military officer, but I'm also a spouse. I still have the need for having somebody to talk to, somebody you can count on if you need help."

The wives have dinners and other social events to help ease the burden while their husbands are deployed.

"You still have daily life," Holly said. "That's when we really create a network."

Holly serves as something of a liasion between the wives and the pilots. The wives ask her the questions they are afraid to ask their husbands about the Air Force lifestyle and environment, she said.

Jordan will return from his deployment in late spring. In the meantime, his wife is confident in him -- and his squadron members.

"There's always a level of uncertainty," Holly said. "But I know what the threats are, and what he's got to face. It falls back on the training. That's what they've been getting ready for."