Wednesday, September 20, 2006


As I walked into my hotel room tonight, a fire truck just up the road threw it's lights and siren on.

It wasn't already screaming towards its target--the truck was already cruising down the road when it happened.

I was sticking my key in the door, fresh from a great evening with my classmate's very rich parents. I had just spent the past four hours drinking martini's in a house like none that I have ever been in, nor will ever probably be in again. I was sliding the key into the lock of my warm and safe room, paid for by the US Air Force and clearly safe.

A quaretr mile up the road I heard a siren erupt. I thought of the dispatcher in the station--getting that final urgent call that upgraded whatever engine #3 was doing from a routine checkout to something that required urgency, that required the lights to come on.

I thought of the driver in the truck, or the copilot who took the radio call, who made the decision to speed things up and move along, clearing the road of anyone else. Of the firefighters in the back--who have kids at home and mothers that love them, that tightened their equipment and pulled on their gloves, not knowing who or what they were going after, or how dangerous it was going to be.

I watched as the cars pulled to side of the road, and remembered how cool I always thought that was, and how badass I have always thought a screaming firetruck looks on its way to a mission.

And then I thought of us, the US military--how I wished that things were like that for us when we would go in to fight, how I wished that there were no questions asked, no media to worry about, and no political boundries to worry about breaching. Those firefighters are given a simple call--"go save them"--and they do it, without hesitation or question as to what the reasons are behind the decision to send them into harm's way.

I wish so much that those same rules applied to us--go do your mission, and we'll take the heat from the media. And the american public will be behind you--no matter what. Because they understand that the only reason you are there is because you believe, with every fiber of your being, that you are protecting the same people that those firefighters are screaming down the highway to save.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?

I was in an jet aircraft on one of my last flights in training to be an Air Force instructor pilot. We had just had an incredible formation flight over south Texas and were looking forward to flying high-G patterns over San Antonio. When we arrived in the pattern, the tower called us up and directed us to land immediately. Pilots don't like to be told what to do. After a few questions about why we were rudely being told to land, we reluctantly threw the gear down and called it a day.

As I walked into the squadron one of my classmates came out to meet me.

"Someone hit the World Trade Center. They think it's an enemy country." I remember, very clearly, thinking that it was the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, that we would soon be at war, and regret in taking a training assignment that would likely keep me out of said war.

When I walked into the building there was a crowd of pilots huddled around a TV watching the two towers burn. My only thought was to call my wife, which I did after putting my chute away and checking in.

Emily was also in the air. She was in the midst of getting her private license on 9/11. On that day she had been tasked to do her first "area solo." What that means is that it was the first time she had flown away from the runway on her own--without an instructor. Things were going just fine until an emergency call came across the radio. An interesting fact is that she was learning how to fly in Waco, Texas--a few miles from the President's Crawford, Texas ranch.

"All aircraft are immediately directed to land."

Emily freaked. Not only did just landing produce a daunting task, but she had to do it now--as fast as she could. Eventually she aquiesced and announced on the radio that she was a student pilot, and the VERY understanding ATC controller talked her back to the airfield.

When I recieved no answer from her phone, I debriefed the sortie. I remember having to convince the instructor that we still needed to finish the training portion of the mission. After maybe five minutes (a typical sortie debrieflasts for an hour) he gave me a perfect score and left. I logged onto the internet and got my first report of the attack, which I'll never forget. It was from AP.

"World Trade Center attacked by aircraft--at least four people killed."

For the next three days we were restricted to the base, immobile and unable to fly. I called the assignment center to see if they needed me to return to my combat unit to fly. I prayed a lot. My sister was due to be married the next weekend, which was subsequently called off and rescheduled because noone could fly. I still have the frame with the original date scratched out and the new date inscribed upon it. But most of all I lived with anger and fury that I wanted to fly and drop good guys on the bad guys wherever they were. It will always live as one of the most frustrating weeks of my life.

The following weekend I drove up to Waco to be with my then two-year old daughter and infant son. I will never forget looking at the skies and not seeing any aircraft, for the first time in my life.

That weekend my wife and I went to a church meeting dealing with the baptism of our son. I will never forget the flags that lined the streets that day, for miles and miles until we got to the church.

On 9/11 I was training to teach others how to defend our Country. Other than standing in the way of those who killed thousands of innocents, I would not have rather been anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


I miss my kids.

It's funny what makes me miss them. I went to a tournament this past weekend and watching the kids running around in their uniforms didn't bring pangs to my heart. It could've been my own nerves. A guy in my class flew his family out for the weekend and I watched from the 4th floor as they swam in the pool. That didn't make me miss them much, either. Funny.

Just a few minutes ago I heard a baby crying. Hard. I went out to the balcony and there was a mother on the lawn behind the hotel rocking her baby that was clearly not too happy. The baby's older sister was playing in the grass beside them. My heart broke.

I was watching "Lost" on DVD last night and the baby on the show had some kind of fever and was screaming at the top of his lungs. That made me miss my kids.

SW relayed to me that during his TKD class last night the instructor failed to call on Cowboy fast enough and he left a puddle on the floor. The thought that he waited with his arm raised, instead of getting up to go to the bathroom, coupled with the embarrassment he must've felt, made me miss my son incredibly.

It's funny-I see kids running around and I obviously miss my family, but it's when I see kids in distress that I miss them the most. I'm not sure why.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Goodbye, Summer

I have come to seriously dig this place.

The boats on the dock off my balcony behind the hotel are tied up, the sun is dropping below a hazy horizon. Somewhere nearby fireworks are going off. A crowd of 20-somethings sits around the pool below me sharing a six-pack.

Summer is officially over.

Now the heat will stay for a while, and the humidity here is damn near unbearable compared to the dryness of home. But for all intents and purposes, the summer has dropped her last sunset. This summer kind of flew by for me--when you couple Odie's first months with a trip to St. Louis, a couple of TDY's and the increasingly-demanding TKD schedule we have devoted ourselves to, there aren't many lazy days to just hang around. This was the first summer that we've had as a family that was just a blur.

One year ago, on this coming Friday, I boarded a plane and went to the other side of the planet to defend the country. It seems so long ago yet it seems like yesterday. I can't belive that Odie is five months old.

I womder what life would be like if we lived here. I get the feeling that time goes by just a little slower here. Sure, we'd be dodging hurrcanes all the time, and it doesn't strike me as the best educational center on the planet for kids. But looking out over the sound, with the last rays of sun streaking the sky as Summer tries desperately to hold on to life, I can't believe that this wouldn't be a fantastic place to live.

Sunday, September 3, 2006


I'm still alive.

I'm actually sitting on my balcony overlooking the Fort Walton Beach harbor right now, with a documentary by the Discovery Channel on about 9/11 on the TV through the open door. It reminds me of the long list (and growing) of websites that are against the war on terror--and how crazy, heartless, and insane those people really are. Aiding this is a glass of Captain and Coke sitting beside the laptop.

Down below me are two 20-something hotties having their nightime swim in the condetel pool. They saw me up here and wigged out--running away to, assumably, their rooms, to get ready for a night on the Destin nightclub scene.

On TV, the second tower just collapsed. It kills the hundreds of people that have been dramatized as being alive o the show. On my right, a party boat floats by on its way out to sea, and the company of other boats doing the same thing.

I don't know why I've been away from blogging. I told Trouble that I simply haven't been insipired--and that's mostly true.

A police boat just pulled over another boat in the harbor. I didn't even know that theycould do that.

I think I would like living here. I have come to understand why people risk hurricanes to live here. It is incredibly peaceful--when the ravages of nature aren't taking their toll on the shores of this paradise.

So, yes--I am still alive, and doing just fine. I just haven't been it by the "muse" in quite a while.