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Tom Sileo's op-ed column on The Unknown Soldiers: Thursday night bowling league
ATLANTA--For Christy Meador, Thursday night is bowling night. Not only is the sport a beloved hobby but her favorite Columbia, S.C., bowling alley is also where she met her husband, Sgt. John David Meador II, known to most as "J.D."
"He also had a nickname of 'Maverick' because my favorite movie is 'Top Gun,'" Christy Meador told "The Unknown Soldiers." "He looked a lot like Maverick."
After meeting in 2002, Christy and her Tom Cruise look-alike, who was working part time as a bartender at the bowling alley, fell in love and married. No matter where life took the couple, they never missed league games with friends on Thursday nights.
"We would always bowl," Christy said. "He could bring a smile to everyone."
In October 2010--the month of J.D. and Christy's birthdays--the ex-bartender stood up on a chair and announced to the entire alley that his wife was pregnant.
"He said, 'My wife just told me we got the best birthday present ever,'" Christy recalled. "He told them I was expecting."
Eight months earlier, J.D. made another huge announcement. After previously serving in the Army, he was rejoining the military as a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard.
"There was no discussion," Christy said. "It was just 'I'm going.'"
On June 27, 2011, Elana Meador was born.
"Now I look back, and it was just so meant to be," Christy said while starting to cry. "Because I don't know where I would be today had we not had [Elana]."
When J.D. deployed to Afghanistan, his wife knew being alone with their little girl would be a challenge. But like thousands of military spouses across America, Christy came through for her soldier.
"All I could do was support him," she said.
J.D. came home on leave in April, which gave him the chance to share unforgettable moments with loved ones, including his older daughter. The highlight was finally spending time with baby Elana.
"He got to see her, hold her and talk to her," Christy said.
When the 36-year-old soldier returned to eastern Afghanistan's Khost Province, the first thing he did was look above his bunk.
Every month, his wife sent him new sets of footprints to remind J.D. how quickly their little girl was growing.