Gov. Haley's Husband: I Narrowly Escaped Afghan Bombing

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 06:20 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The husband of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has returned temporarily from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan and is trying to adjust to a normal life again with his family.

The governor's mansion is a far cry from the ever-present dangers from al-Qaida and the Taliban in the deserts of Helmand Province, where National Guard Capt. Michael Haley was lucky to escape a couple of bomb blasts.

Haley told The State that the most frightening moments overseas came when he was riding in convoys that were struck by improvised explosive devices. Although he was driving behind a vehicle that hit a bomb in one scare, there were only a few minor injuries.

"There were a few tense moments occasionally, but no bullets were flying," he said. "Al-Qaida and the Taliban are somewhat in hiding."

Haley, who was stationed with the Guard's agriculture unit overseas, is now reconnecting with his 12-year-old son Nalin and 15-year-old daughter Rena.

"The kids have to get used to him [being around] again," the governor told the newspaper. She added that one day her son even said to her, "'I don't remember what it was like when he was here.'"

But the captain said he managed to bond with his children on his return by going to his son's basketball game and then sharing pizza with him and Rena.

Gov. Haley said that after he left, she moved the family's meals to the second floor, instead of the first floor, so that they would not have to look at the chair her husband usually sat in at dinner.

"You change your lifestyle to get through the days," she said. "So when they come back, you have to transition back to either the old way or the new way and work it out together. It’s not just the hug that you see when you get home. There’s a few weeks of transition."

Michael Haley is also having to get accustomed to the hustle and bustle of life in an American city again after spending months listening to virtual silence in the desert.

"Over there, you don’t hear anything. There’s no streets, no automobiles going back and forth. There’s no birds even chirping. Everything is still back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, there."

As her husband settles back into his life and his regular job with the Guard in strategic planning, the governor will be launching her 2014 campaign for a second term in office. She does not believe, however, that her husband's deployment to a war zone, the first by the spouse of a sitting governor, should be used in the campaign as a way to help her win votes. But she acknowledged that being a military spouse gives her a unique understanding of what military families deal with that many candidates may not have.

"What I want people to remember is that I’m a military spouse that happens to be a governor," she told The State. "We know what military families go through. So it gives us another aspect of the population that we happen to relate to."

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