WASHINGTON -- For the past six months overseas while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Air Force Sgt. Cole Condiff's communication with his young daughter and pregnant wife back home in Florida has been limited to text messages -- all dependent on what he called a "spotty" wireless Internet
WASHINGTON -- For the past six months overseas while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Air Force Sgt. Cole Condiff's communication with his young daughter and pregnant wife back home in Florida has been limited to text messages -- all dependent on what he called a "spotty" wireless Internet connection.
On Tuesday night at sold-out Nationals Park, the home of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, Airman Condiff didn't need Wi-Fi to show his love.
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"My family thinks I'm still over there," said Condiff, who snuck up behind wife, Rachael, and daughter, Charley, who turns 3 later this week. "I was talking to my wife today and I said to her, 'Yeah, we're planning a mission.'
"She has no idea. I'm excited."
Airman Condiff had taped a video message Tuesday morning, and it was airing on the stadium scoreboard while Rachael and Charley, both wearing Texas Rangers gear, looked on.
Suddenly, he was right behind them, his beard freshly shaved.
It will be a short-and-sweet visit. as Airman Condiff's work required a Wednesday departure. He will be away when Rachael is due to give birth to their second child in October.
"I'm still relatively in control of [his emotions] right now," he said an hour before Nationals ace Max Scherzer's first pitch. "We'll see as it gets closer. Without my family and whatnot, everything would be so much harder. They're definitely what makes everything work for me, especially when I'm gone. It's nice. My unit takes care of my family well, and [with] the support of the nation, it's awesome."
Condiff, from Dallas, enlisted in the Air Force in 2012 and is assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the only Special Tactics Wing in the Air Force.
He'll tell you the same thing Tuesday's All-Stars would say, that their work is the easy part. Keep one's head down, do the job. It's the wives and families back home who deserve at least equal credit.
Tuesday was an unexpected opportunity to say thank you in person.
"Taking care of our daughter, getting ready to have another kid, all by herself -- it's phenomenal," Airman Condiff said. "The military is great about helping her out when I can't do it. The community, the American people, in general help her a lot. It's tough on her but she definitely has the support she needs."
Adam McCalvy and Alyson Footer are reporters for MLB.com.