Desert High School Senior, Jordan Bella, was born at Edwards Air Force Base, in the days when the base still had a hospital. Jordan spent his kindergarten and first grade years in Germany before returning to Edwards for the second grade and every grade following.
Just before entering his senior year, Jordan was faced with a difficult choice to make when his father, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Bella, 33rd Rescue Squadron, received a permanent change of station to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
Jordan chose to stay behind and finish his senior year at DHS. Shortly after arriving in Japan, Bella was deployed to Afghanistan. Because of his deployment, Bella missed the entire holiday season with his family. Instead of his children spending the holidays in Japan, his wife, Joyce Bella visited their children in the states.
“I kind of promoted myself out of a job and there were no jobs here at Edwards, so we had to PCS to Okinawa, Japan,” said Bella. “For my son to finish high school; he was involved in football and to keep in a good mind for college, we thought, ‘okay we’re going to let him stay as a long as he keeps his grades up.’”
Since his parents left in August, Jordan has stayed with his godparents and continued to participate†with the football team and the Associated Student Body as well as maintaining his grades.
“It was difficult because I pretty much missed his whole senior football year and we’re pretty much diehards with Desert football,” said Bella. He added that Jordan’s godparents would video tape and send many of Jordan’s games to Bella, who would stay up late watching them.
March 7, Jordan was sitting in class when his principal, Dr. David Ellms, walked in, took his backpack and told Jordan to follow him.
“I thought I was in trouble,” said Jordan. “I didn’t know what I did wrong”
What Bella found when he walked outside was his father, hiding behind the classroom door.
“I didn’t even see my dad, I just heard his voice and I knew,” said Jordan.
The reunion was certainly an emotional, tearful one. Jordan shared that he and his father are “really close and FaceTime nearly every night.” According to Jordan, his father had also had a difficult choice to make. He could have spent six months in Afghanistan and come home for the holidays, but instead he chose four months of deployment and no family holidays, so that he could attend Jordan’s graduation.
“I didn’t know he was going to break down and that just showed me how much he misses me,” said Bella. “When we first left for Okinawa it was really heartbreaking for us and for him because he’s used to us always being there for him and then now, just seeing him crying. It tears my heart when I see him crying, but knowing that I came to see him, that’s more of a happy crying that I’m back.”
During his “around the world” trip back to Okinawa, Bella was also able to surprise his daughter, Kristina at work.
“I had her co-worker do a video on my phone so I could show my wife,” said Bella.
Jordan shared that his father “missed food” like In-N-Out, during his deployment, so they spent a lot of their time together eating out. Bella and his children even took a short trip to San Diego over the weekend to visit Bella’s parents.
“I see [my dad] as my role model, I love him,” said Jordan. “I like it that my parents are still supporting me no matter where they are. My mom too, she gets those videos [of Jordan's football games]. When we had our football banquet I FaceTimed them both and they were crying.”
Bella described this past deployment as his “most intense.”
“We stood on the alert for heroes. That’s what we call people who had passed, who had been killed in action,” said Bella. “It was bad when we got a call because we knew someone was out there, but we just stood alert and went out once every other day.”
Though he was only able to stay for a few days before returning to Japan, Bella was “grateful” for the chance to see his family. Bella recalled that in 25 years, this is the longest he has been separated from his children. His next trip to California is slated for Jordan’s graduation from high school.
“I’m just glad I got to see him before he graduates,” said Bella. “Not [just] at graduation day, but I got to see him a few months prior and stop in to say ‘I love you.’”
To watch the video of the reunion, click on the following link. If on base and having trouble playing the video, click on the Download (WMV) at the bottom of the player: