Previously on HFN: Spencer Grieves and Worries
Kelly came outside and rubbed Kate’s shoulders, “I’m so sorry, Kate.” Then others trickled out of the building to offer their condolences. Spencer slid over on the bench, but only slightly.
After a few minutes, Kate and Spencer were alone again. A pair of uniform pants and boots appeared in her vision and she let go of Spencer. Their commanding officer, Senior Master Sergeant Connors, must have asked Sergeant Thompson where they were. She didn’t even feel guilty and when she saw the look on his face; she knew it was okay under the circumstances. She and Spencer slowly stood up and half heartedly saluted.
Connors was a cool guy, not a hard-nosed jerk like some officers they knew and had worked under. Kate knew he had a sense of humor, though she didn’t see him often. She also knew he was fair.
His tall frame towered over them, but he never used his height to lord over anyone. His blue eyes often twinkled and he loved to share a good joke.
The CO dismissed them and was silent for a moment. When he finally spoke, it wasn’t a reprimand. “I’m sorry, Kate, Spencer. These things are difficult to take, but they happen.”
“Yes, Sir,” they both answered in weak tones.
He held his hand up. “But don’t go just yet. Now, as a human being as well as an officer, I’ll be the first to offer my condolences. John was an excellent airman. One of our finest. He’ll be missed around here for sure.
“Funeral services are being worked out through the Mortuary Affairs Office.” He turned to Spencer, “Spencer, are you willing to be the FLO between the family and the unit? It seems Mrs. Kern knows you?”
“Of course; I’d be honored. Let Mrs. Kern know I’ll help in any way.” He wiped his face and stood straighter. As the Funeral Liaison Officer (FLO), he would be in touch with John’s parents in Minnesota through the Mortuary Affairs Office to let the unit know of the official funeral service information.
“We’d be grateful. I’ll let the Affairs office know and give them your contact info.”
Then the CO turned to Kate. “I’m assuming you’d like to attend the funeral.”
Kate nodded, not being able to speak.
“Fill out the normal leave forms and I’ll have Sergeant Thompson sign off on it. The service will most likely be mid-week next week,” he turned to Spencer, “just keep us informed. Spencer, as the FLO, you’ll be going under TDY orders and I’ll be attending along with the First Sergeant, etc.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Spencer replied. The officer turned to Kate. “I’m sorry Kate. If there’s anything we can do, let us know. ”
She nodded, already turning to go. She heard their commanding officer whisper to Spencer, “Watch her now. You can both take the rest of the week off, I’ll make the changes.”
She heard Spencer mumble an answer, but couldn’t make out the words.
Then Spencer was at her side. He cleared his throat before asking, “Want me to take you home or somewhere?” His face was red and his eyes swollen. But he seemed to be in control now.
At first she thought of saying no, but she didn’t know if she could be alone right now. “I guess.” She took a few steps before remembering she needed her hat and her purse. “I have to get my purse.”
“I’ll wait here.” Spencer ambled back to the bench and plopped down, raking his hands through his hair, before putting his hat askew on his head.
Next time on HFN: Spencer and Kate Take a Drive