Veteran Photo-Journalist Honors Military in New Book

Heart of a Military Woman| 1 Comment »

Veteran Photo-Journalist

Honors Military in New Book

Debra Ann Ristau served for nine years as a photo-journalist and public affairs specialist in the California Army National Guard.

In 1987, Pope John Paul II came to California and said Mass at the Laguna Seca racetrack, and spoke at Carmel Mission. I flew with the 49th Helicopter Company to assist and write about the event. The Pope is a head of state (the Vatican) and treated as a visiting diplomat, not just head of Catholic Church. Once the Pope and his entourage landed at the Monterey airport, the 49th Helicopter Company, based in Stockton, California, flew the Cardinal’s and Secret Service people to the site while the Pope rode in Marine 1 (the Marine’s helicopter equivalent of Air Force 1). At Carmel Mission the Pope came out to thank all of us who worked behind the scenes, it was very cool. I am wearing a borrowed flight suit because the secret service didn’t want me to be in camoflauge. This photo was taken by the Vatican.

She writes in the new book, Heart of a Military Woman, releasing today–Veterans Day 2009, "Falling atop those memories are the ever present emotions that come forth when I think of my daughter, who was a U.S. Marine and my niece, a Captain in the Army and Bronze Star recipient while serving in Iraq."

General Norman Schwarzkopf came to Modesto to speak at a fund raiser for California State University, Stanislaus and I was lucky enough to meet him, have my photo taken with him, and he autographed my copy of his book, he is one of my military heroes and it was an awesome moment for me – bad hair and all.

No Creature on Earth

As her tribute in the book continues: "The heart of a military woman is like the heart of a lion—strong, fierce, tenacious. She will slay an enemy in a heartbeat to protect her country—or her young. She will defend what she believes is right until her last dying breath. She is a tough and formidable opponent if you intend her harm. Yet, her heart will soften and swell with pride as she looks at Old Glory, or the men and women and children she serves and protects. Her allies, her team, her fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are her brothers and sisters; and, she will forever feel the bond they share—no matter how long she served on active duty, and for as long as she lives. She is also soft and tender. Her heart aches for home and her loved ones.
Photo above on right: Sp4 Carla Webb, 980th Medical Supply Optical Maintenance, Sacramento, strings communication wires in the field. CAARNG Photo by Sgt. Debra Sonniksen [Ristau], 69th Public Affairs Detachment (PAD)

"She will do what she says. Her word is an iron promise. She is amazing in her ability to adapt, overcome adversity, do whatever it takes, and still dance the night away if given a pair of heels, a dress, and music. She laughs deeper, loves harder, and her heart knows no bounds. That is the heart of a military woman. There is no creature on earth as tough, as tender, as warm, and giving, as generous of spirit, or as protective as a military woman."
Photo: Lieutenant Louise Sanders, Sergeant Debra Sonniksen [Ristau], and Sp4 Melissa Barnes enjoy a brief respite from a Field Training Exercise (FTX), November, 1987. CAARNG Photo by SSgt. Ben Delaney, 69th PAD

~Debra Ann Ristau
USARNG—California, 1985–1994

Heart of a Military Woman is co-authored by Eldonna Lewis Fernandez and Sheryl Roush, female motivational and inspirational speakers.

Heart of a Military Woman is available here.

Entries RSS | Comments RSS