Mom Returns from War
After 22 years in the US Air Force, Staff Sergeant
Sue Preiss learned that she would soon leave her home and family near
Honolulu, Hawaii to spend six months in Iraq.
News coverage of the war, focusing on the risks of
duty half way across the world, stirred her husband’s resolute
she returns from her tour of duty in Iraq,” he recalled, “I knew that
we’d have to make a lasting statement.”
At Sue’s departure, tears rolled and promises were
Sue vowed that this would be her last tour of duty.
Just before she boarded the jet, she spoke
the words Preston and daughter Courtney (18) had hoped to hear for
“I’ll retire when this one’s done.”
long before the reality of overseas duty
sank in, over there and at home.
Six months was a long separation, but each
passing day brought them 24 hours closer to each other, and the comforts
For Sue, the worst part was the inability to
be with her family.
But close behind that sadness was the fear
Enemy rockets slammed into her facility
occasionally, and the sound of distant gunfire was a constant reminder
of the very real threat of serving there.
and Awe makeover
Meanwhile, Preston and Courtney (18) conspired to
make Sue’s return the best it could be.
“We wanted to dazzle her,” said Preston.
“That meant Courtney and I would need to
join forces with some furniture stores, a flooring company, a paint
supplier, and some friends in the HVAC business.”
Preston admitted that the home was ready for some
The 1,400 s.f., three bedroom house, built
in ’94, hadn’t seen much change since its construction.
To entertain themselves, and to add credence
to their claim that all was quiet on the home front, Preston and
Courtney took photos of each other in the house with dirty clothes
strewn about, pots and pans left untouched in the kitchen, and pets
pawing around on unmade beds
Preston and Courtney replaced carpeting and some of
the curtains, painted most of the interior, replaced plumbing fixtures,
bought new furniture and a flat screen TV and planted a bunch of shrubs
“We couldn’t do everything we wanted to do, even
with six months to make it happen,” said Courtney.
“So dad and I decided that one thing would
remain, and we’d it done soon after her return:
added air conditioning for the home.”
Six months later, Sue returned home.
Tears fell again at the airport, but this
time they were crying for joy.
It was over.
When she first saw the house, Sue was surprised –
stunned, smitten and dazzled – at every turn.
“I never imagined a homecoming like this,”
“The joy at being home, with family, and at
seeing my house with its extreme makeover was overwhelming.”
to Preston, she slept for days.
Gradually, she emerged and was eventually
greeted with even better news when Preston and Courtney told her that
there was one facet to the makeover they couldn’t accomplish while she
was in Iraq – improvements to the home’s HVAC system.
On a perfect Hawaiian day last fall, the Preiss’
watched as a crack installation crew from AMV Air, Inc., based in
Honolulu, installed a super-efficient Fujitsu Halcyon ductless multizone.
One of the air conditioner evaporators went
into Sue’s upstairs home office and, next to it, the other went into
Courtney’s room, two spaces that got uncomfortably warm nine months of
The ductless Fujitsu system was installed by AMV’s
Billy Souza, installation supervisor; John Palpallatoc, apprentice; and
Henry Flores, service technician. “We had a few challenges getting the
refrigerant lines through the eaves upstairs, but overall the
installation relatively simple,” said Souza.
Fujitsu’s new Halcyon multi-zone equipment has
efficiency ratings of up to 16.5 SEER and 9 HSPF and super-quiet
Though many different configurations are
available, the Preiss’ chose a 24,000 BTU system with two air handlers.
Standard features include a wireless remote control
for the wall mount units and a wired remote control for concealed
ceiling units, a plasma IAQ filter for wall mount units, sleep timer,
four-event programmable timer, dry mode, auto louver, auto restart/reset
mode and efficient operation with low, or high ambient temperatures.
“We install a lot of the Fujitsu systems here in
Hawaii,” said Aldrin Vallahermosa, president of AMV Air.
“The manufacturer recently added many new
lines and configurations, even permitting integration with ducted
But for an installation like the Preiss,’ a
conventional ductless setup, with two evaporator units, was a perfect
last, it’s comfortable and cool upstairs, even in the warmest weather,”
“When the last of our remodeling was finally
finished that day, it felt so good knowing that we’d done it for Mom.”
But the ultimate reward for their work was the
decision Sue made after 22 years of service in the Air Force.
She came home from the air base one day and
corralled her husband and daughter in the kitchen.
“I made a decision this morning and
submitted all the paperwork.
The commander signed off on it, so it’s
my retirement from military service will be official soon.”
Sue is now a civilian working for the military in
Preston’s business, a welding enterprise,
And Courtney is soon to enter her first year
of college on the mainland.
together they now enjoy all the comforts of home.