Monday, December 25, 2006

You know you're old when... find references to yourself in a museum, like the one above at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. My daughter and her husband brought me here for a visit, and I found what I expected to find, but I didn't expect to feel the way I did about it. I looked for, and easily found, the 2-seater Wild Weasel version of the F-105 in which I flew in SE Asia in 1967-68.But then I began finding the flight suits I wore and the patches, one (the squadron bulldog patch of the 354th) and the 100-mission patches, the pursuit of which got some of my guys killed and some a room in the Hanoi Hilton.

I was, suddenly, remembering the war. Then, it got strangely real for me. There was Chris Martin, the Chaplain with whom I'd served. And...oh heavens...Sparkie, who flew with our sister squadron, the 355th. I knew these men. I lived with these men. I experienced war with these men. (Sparkie made Colonel eventually, and you can see him on the Discovery Military channel if you catch their episode of Wild Weasels. It shows combat footage of my guys along with an overdue, tell-it-like-it-was version of how the then President and McNamara got us killed for nothing...and that digression felt good).

All around us, through 3 massive hangers, we found everything from the Wright Brothers' plane to missiles. All around me I saw the magnificence we've achieved in the art of air war. And, I looked at the enormous price tags on each plane knowing it represented the cheapest cost we paid.

Peach on earth...what do you say?

Paddle safe...


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