Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

June 21, 2013

A Father's Day message from Afghanistan

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

---- — Four children whose parents grew up in Batesville had a surprising Father’s Day.

In the middle of a Nebraska baseball diamond, before the Men’s College World Series of Omaha 2 p.m. game began, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Obermeyer, stationed in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and traveling in Afghanistan, appeared on the Jumbotron.

During a 20-second taped message, the 1991 Batesville High School graduate said, “I hope you’re having a good time. I miss you all.” Wife Beth Obermeyer recalls, “I held back the tears. I was lucky to have my sunglasses on. The kids were really excited. ‘It’s Daddy!’”

Back in Batesville, her mom, Linda Siefert, who was married to the late Robert Siefert, was hoping to catch a glimpse of the family during the game on ESPN. Behind the announcer, “you could see the Jumbotron” displaying Obermeyer’s video and the family watching it. Thinking about seeing her loved ones on TV “makes me tear up.”

On Father’s Day, the series’ organizers wanted to honor a deployed family. One came to see Obermeyer’s base commander there, who suggested the quintet. “To be the family selected as a representative by the military is a great honor for them,” Siefert points out.

On Sunday at 9:30 a.m., sons Tylor, 14, Seth, 10, and Jacob, 4, and daughter Sophia, 6, went with their mother, a 1998 Oldenburg Academy graduate, to a Hilton hotel, where they were met by Iván Rodríguez, a retired Major League Baseball catcher who played for six teams. They walked with him to tour the stadium. “The kids got to go out on the field and throw baseballs with him …. It was very cool.” The family also got autographs and photos with the catcher.

After an hourlong break at the hotel, the children enjoyed pitching and batting activities and snow cones at FanFest. Wearing shirts displaying Obermeyer’s photo, they were called out onto the field after the National Anthem for the surprise video.

Then the Obermeyers were escorted to really good seats three rows in. They left after getting tired during the fifth inning. According to Beth, “My kids were super troopers. They walked a lot of flights of stairs” that day.

Game 3 ended with North Carolina State University beating the University of North Carolina 8-1.

Souvenirs include a Rodríguez-signed ball for each kid and the Air Force commander, plus a signed T-shirt Beth Obermeyer will send to her husband.

The couple Skyped about the happy memory the next day. The son of John and Ann Obermeyer, Batesville, reported six servicemembers helped with the video filming.

Obermeyer, the 466th Air Expeditionary Group Operations Center superintendent, is responsible for accountability for over 1,700 airmen. Most stop in Kyrgyzstan before and after their Afghanistan tours. “It’s kind of a briefing point for everyone going in country,” she explains. Obermeyer recently traveled to all Afghanistan locations “just to make sure how things are running, how they’re processing people when they get off the planes.”

Beth Obermeyer describes her spouse as hard working and good-hearted. “He likes to be a mentor to the younger airmen, he boosts them up … .and actually listens to them. He works hard to give people direction and guidance.”

The 22-year servicemember earned an MBA with a concentration in human resources from Bellevue University.

The couple got married in 2000. Obermeyer was stationed in Omaha once before, from 1997-2007. Then the family lived in Eaton, Ohio, for four years while he worked with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Miami University before returning to Nebraska.

Of being a military clan, Beth admits, “It’s a whole other type of family. You rely on each other. You have other people who help you out. You’re there for them, they’re there for you. It’s busy and it’s hard at times. You definitely have that camaraderie with families who have been in that position.”

She says Chris gives special thanks to area residents who have offered their support, “especially the women’s auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Batesville and to those of the Holy Family Parish who have offered their prayers.”