Sarge had a great post on Saturday about the things he loves in life. I’m in agreement with his list, except he left off Bacon. I mean, what was he thinking?
But it got me to pondering (always a dangerous action on my part) ideas for this week's subject when I came across this video.
Coupling Sarge's post and the video, I figured out the subject.
What aspects of my life do I view with pride? I mean, what things do I look back on and say “Hey, I got that one right?” Certainly, there are a lot of times that are best described as “Aw, S..t! Wish I’d done that differently.” And certainly, one “Aw, S..t!” wipes out a lot of “attaboys”.
I've come to realize that I've been pretty hard on myself lately, dwelling on the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” in my life. But Sarge’s post got me to thinking about what’s gone right in my life.
So, There I was…*
Obviously, one of the things that’s gone right in my life was an eventful Air Force career. There were ups and downs, accomplishments and disappointments. All in all, that was a good time in my life.
As I arrived at Laughlin for pilot training, I was nervous about whether I would make it. While in the aviation familiarization program during ROTC, I had unintentionally stalled and spun the Cessna 150 I was flying solo in. I was practicing steep turns around a point, a cross road between some cotton fields, got slow, tried to roll out and used a bit too much rudder.
Stall + Yaw=Spin
I, obviously, recovered successfully but very low. The incident unnerved me. A year later, I’m at pilot training and about to start flying the T-37 . The T-37 was an excellent platform for teaching a neophyte how to fly. It had enough performance to teach most any aspect of aviation from Acro to Instruments to formation, but was slow enough that the IP could recover it (most of the time).
One major teaching objective in the program was Spins. Virtually all rides other than instrument or formation, involved spin training. I was nervous about it.
Without dwelling too deeply, while I never “liked” doing spins, I learned to recognize them and keep my wits about me while recovering. I am glad that I went through that training.
I was also nervous when my name was called on Assignment Night. As I popped to attention, I was thinking about the rumors I’d been hearing that the Tweet Squadron wanted me back as a FAIP. I REALLY didn't want that! Thankfully I heard F-4 to Luke, although it did take a second to sink in that I was going to fly a Fighter! I could hardly wait for the rest of the list to be read out, before running to the phone to tell my Folks. My F-86 pilot Dad was ecstatic!
I had both harrowing and humorous adventures in my Flying Career, and while I miss the flying, as Old NFO put it, I miss the camaraderie of the guys in the squadron the most.
I’m glad Bones and I beat the snot out of the pair of F/A-18s on my final flight. I can still diagram that fight. Epic. Tactics straight out of the Battle of Cannae, albeit employed at Mach 1.3. But that’s a story for another day.
On landing, I’m met by the squadron and drenched by fire extinguishers and champagne. Later in the bar I suddenly realize, without a doubt, I am done flying.
My CINCPAC staff tour was enjoyable. How can anyone not enjoy an assignment to Hawaii? I enjoyed the job and the tour culminated with the successful repatriation of 118 Chinese intercepted by the Coast Guard just outside the 12 mile limit on the west coast. I view the operation proudly as the would be immigrants were treated with respect, and provided medical treatment to help them recover from the stresses of the voyage and treatment by their handlers. I view the execution of the handlers by the Chinese Government on their return to be well deserved.
I view aspects of my Pentagon tour with a bit of pride. I will forever remember going along with my Son’s Boy Scout troop on a camping trip. I had borrowed a tent from a friend and made the classic mistake of not setting it up, in daylight, before the trip. We arrived at the campsite well after dark, and I’m fumbling around trying to get the tent set up. Pretty soon, my Son comes over and says “Here, Dad, let me help.” Sure enough, a few minutes later, the tent is set up and I’m inside ( a very good thing because it started raining shortly thereafter). This was my first indication that my Son was growing up.
My responsibility on the Joint Staff involved assignment of Military Assets to Counter Drug operations. I was the Action Officer for the successful fight to keep P-3s from being used exclusively for counter drug use, as well as the fight to keep Marines from being deployed on the border to keep drug smugglers out. I believed this was going to result in casualties and said so. Unfortunately for Esequiel Hernandez, I was not successful. I still feel I got both those actions right.
That was it for my AF career. At no point did I ever want to wear stars. It would have been nice to have a flying squadron command, but it wasn't to be. Life goes on.
I've come to realize that the “things” in my life I like the best aren't things at all, they’re people. In particular, my family. I am especially proud of my children, my aforementioned Son and my beautiful Daughter.
At my retirement ceremony, I gave my Son my leather flying jacket sans name tag. At the time, I told him he’d have to earn those wings himself. My, what a curse! I watched him grow in High School and, with pride, enter the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. His struggles and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to pass Calculus 3 were heartbreaking. A change of major lead to graduation, but a mistake on the commissioning PFT caused the Air Force Commission to slip from his grasp.
After hearing the news, I asked him what his plans were. Without hesitation, he said “Dad, I’m going to get a Masters Degree in Computer Security.” Which he did, no regrets, no whining. Damn, I’m proud of him!
|"Little" Juvat and Wife|
He's 6'4", she's not, but she's a sweetheart also!
My Daughter, a miracle child, was born 6 years after my Son. Finally the Lord blessed us with a second child. Sarge has a picture of his daughter with a single word caption “Joy”. That sums it up nicely. She is our Joy.
|Cinque Terra, Italy|
She also attended A&M. As part of her degree requirements, she had to study abroad for a semester in a country that speaks the language she’s studying. French in her case. I think to myself, Paris wouldn't be too bad, Geneva maybe, heck even Tahiti. But NOOO, my Daughter comes home one weekend and says “Dad, I’m going to go to Rwanda.” I return with “Dear, I’m going to issue my sole Paternal Veto. You are not going anywhere the residents have committed genocide within your lifetime!” Silence…
A couple of weeks later, she comes back and says “Senegal”. I call in some favors from folks I know and ask about the situation there. Third World problems of course, but basically safe. She goes over there and experiences the Third World first hand. Using a coffee cup to bathe on the edge of the Sahara? My Daughter, for whom a shower can last all morning?
Her first town, the one on the edge of the Sahara, actually had wifi (pronounced by the Senegalese as Wee Fee), so she maintained a blog . Hilarious and well appreciated by Dad who’s concerned about his daughter’s welfare.
The Airport in San Antonio has one terminal that, from outside security, one can see all the way to the last jetway. We’re waiting for her as she steps off the jet. Even from the distance, I can see that she’s a different person than the daughter I sent over. She walks with a much more confident stride, carrying herself differently. In short, she’s grown up.
Now, if I can get her to stop torturing her Dad by going to these “exotic” places. Kuwait and Dubai? It’s no wonder what little hair I have left is gray! That having been said, I couldn't be prouder.
And, of course, there is Mrs Juvat! Of all the aspects of my life that I think I got right, clearly she is #1. 33 years who’da thunk?. Below the zone to Major and LtCol, she’s going places; and all I wanted to do was hang on to be her C-21 pilot. But when the kids needed her, she kicked it all in and retired. Since then, she’s been a successful Mom (the kids turned out all right in spite of my best efforts), business woman and small business owner (four of them actually). She can spot a money making niche with the best of them. So, yeah, she’s in the “got it right” column.
Sarge summed it up perfectly “Though I'm kind of grumpy at times, in general I'm a happy guy.
(Now can we talk about bacon?)