Monday, July 13, 2015

Something To Be Proud Of

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.

And blessed.”


I agree.

(Now can we talk about bacon?)

*SJC

37 comments:

  1. Ya done good Juvat.

    (Now pass the bacon, please.)

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  2. I always wanted to fly. Since I was about 8. Eyes went soft, time went by, never did.

    You guys that scooted around in the good stuff were always my heroes. I grew up near Reese AFB. 37's and 38's were as common as flies.

    We were having a picnic back in '82. Texas Air Guard comes burning over the tree tops near Comfort in F4's. Maybe 300 probably closer to 200 feet. That JP4 smelled amazing as it dusted over us. I was floating on cloud nine. The flash of the aircraft and the solid sound of them was awesome.

    Thank you for what you did, and know that there is at least one Texas boy that wishes he could've too. F4 pilots.... Too cool!

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    1. I've flown that low level route first in T-37s and T-38s while at Laughlin. Later in the F-4 while on a cross country from Moody. Perhaps.....

      This Texas Boy thanks you.

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  3. Replies
    1. That's what I'm talkin about!!!

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    2. Hhmm, I need to get DroolGuard for my work keyboard.

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    3. I office at an elementary campus. DroolGuards are standard issue here. (Thankfully!)

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  4. What I have come to believe is that though life the things we things mean nothing along the way become cherished. Funny your experience in C-150s and mine wityh spins were the same - but we soldiered on.

    Crosswind landings almost killed me on my solo but I too persevered.

    Those of us who were in the military; I think we all miss the camaraderie.

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    1. I did my Cessna time in Lubbock. I think I'd probably have had more trouble on a solo with a non-crosswind landing than a crosswind one. But I get your point.

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    2. My first non-farm job was at Avtech Aviation at LBB at 16. I was washing bugs off trainers, cleaning out the corporate jets, and wash and wax any itinerant that requested it. I lived about 4 miles north of the outer marker on runway 17.

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  5. Bacon. There's always room for another piece (or three) of bacon.

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    1. Yeah, I thought Skip was being a bit cheap on his bacon offering, or was almost finished eating.

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  6. Very uplifting post Juvat, Thanks! Great topic and food for thought.

    My how times change. Given the ferocious reputation of the Senegalese in the first half of the 20th century, your granddad might have played the veto card the other way bitd. Regardless, a trip into the gut of the third world is a life changing experience and I doff my hat to anyone with the courage to do that. I was brave as heck as part of a CVBG away out on the briny. No way I'd have strolled into Senegal or Rwanda on my own and without an airwing/MEU on call.

    You can't get reliable bacon in those places either.

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    1. Thanks PA. I remember reading about the Senagalese troops in WWI, so you're probably right about the veto card. You're definitely right about the bacon. My daughter is a vegetarian, so the trip was extra difficult on her. It's been 4 years since she went on that adventure. Still can't eat onions.

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    2. No good deed goes unpunished...

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    3. That statement ranks right up there with one my roommate on TDYs from SAMS (who's now the USARPAC commander, well done Vince, umm, I mean General)
      That would be "Excellence is its own punishment".

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  7. A great read this morning. Thanks. In summary: Bacon++, Daughters+++, sons whose eyes change in college, the same. Spins, not so much love. I used to "IP" an O-6 Wing DO (you know, so they wouldn't crash or something). Of course all he wanted to do was dogfight. As you'll recall the Phantom would turn pretty well with rudder only and high "g's". He ALWAYS put the stick to the side wall and flip us. Never had to use the drag chute to recover though. Looking back, I'm glad I was young.

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    1. Thanks.

      It took me a while in the Eagle to get to the point where Ailerons were for turning, rudder was for pointing the nose. I got there, but it took a while. I got your point about
      "IP"ing a DO. Fortunately, mine was a much better stick than I (Most of the time).

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  8. What a great read today. You've much to be respected for and to be proud of. As to the spins - I remember my g.a. instructor tellingme to go out and practice stalls and spins while working on my CFI. My thought was "sure, right after I practice bleeding". Never liked them, still don't.

    Thanks for the wonderful memories.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, High Praise indeed, coming from one of my favorite bloggers!

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  9. Back at Chez Sarge had a chance to really listen to that tune.

    Brought a tear to my eye it did...

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  10. Y'all got some rocking families there. Guess you guys are doing something right.

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    1. Thanks Murph. I kinda like hearing about your family also.

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  11. As to spins, I can't find an IP around here who will take me through a real spin, even in my own 172, which is probably good since it's 50 years old this year.

    I still laugh at how mad Raz got when I asked him how to do an aileron roll with it once. Heh.

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    1. Yes, well. All I had to do was let go of the yoke, that would have broken the "high speed" stall, the aileron would have regained authority and I could have recovered from the dive. Instead, I increased drag on the high wing side which caused the airplane to yaw that way, which I augmented by stepping (stomping?) on that rudder. The first turn of the spin was very much like a roll. I distinctly remember looking up at the ground. The second turn was much more like a nose low roll with the nose rotating around the horizon. That's when I let go of the yoke and took my feet off the rudders, probably to assume the fetal position. Maybe a quarter turn later, the rotation stopped and it was all I could do not to immediately pull on the yoke to recover. No idea what altitude I recovered at, but it was LOW. I think that was on the last of my solo's (of 4) and the rest of the dual sorties were basic instruments, so we didn't do stalls and falls again. I never said a word to my instructor, mostly because I didn't want to do more stalls and falls.

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  12. Yep, it's the little things... And family, kids and BACON! :-)

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    1. Bacon is important, but I think you've got things in the right order.

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  13. Sorry for all the grey hairs, and I'm pretty darn proud to call you Dad :)

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  14. It was nice to get a peek inside the Juvats! Thanks for this. It looks like the staff here is pretty much made up of happy guys. As far as going to exotic and far-away places goes, my wife once said that she'd like to see Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, etc- all the places I'd take photos of and send home after port visits. Most of those pictures however, were just of the hotel- with the rest of the area being not much to look at, or even someplace I'd want to go if the Navy wasn't sending me. I told her she can visit nice hotels in nice countries with me instead. So far, we are.

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    1. Thanks
      Yeah, the UAE is not high on my list of places to visit, especially after my Daughter got home and said it was a lot like "visiting the inside of your hair dryer, only with Sand!"
      For exotic places, I think Auckland and Sydney with a couple of day layover in Honolulu. Yeah, that's the ticket. 105 days and counting.

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  15. Happy Bastille Day, everyone! A GREAT time to be in New Orleans! Beaucoup parties over a four-day span--both public & pvt! N.O. always starts early with events kicking off this last Sat am, 11 Jul with the Bastille Day Regatta sponsored by N.O. Yacht Club. (Sarge, you dropped the ball today, No history lesson about the storming of the Bastille? :) )

    (juvat--e-mail forthcoming on meet-up)

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    1. Sounds like fun. I'm gonna bet that Sarge will include info on the Bastille in his upcoming book, since that was a key event in the time frame he says he's going to write about.

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    2. Yeah, I did drop the ball on Bastille Day.

      I'll make it up to you Virgil, je le jure!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)