Saturday, June 30, 2018

They were Titans amongst Men.



"They were Titans amongst Men."  So how many times have you heard a phrase like this?  It is so ingrained in what used to be our culture that now there is a tweeter feed named Titans Amongst Men, and a Dungeons and Dragons (the silly role-playing game) fanflick, so you know it is pretty common, or at least a known thing.  But what does it mean?  Well… Let’s start at the beginning.

Who were the Titans?  No, well, yes they are a sportsmoneyball team from Tennessee, but I’m not talking about those Titans.  
Not these guys...
https://www.titansonline.com/photos/titans-patriots-pregame-photos-20249019#ce90aa91-16a3-4a4c-9296-3d89fa193697


These Guys!
Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, The Fall of the Titans, 1596-98
(Notice the convenient placement of.....  butterflies, a dragonfly and various body parts.)
(It's like some mad game of twister.)



I’m talking about the original Titans, those of Greek mythology.  They were descending from the primordial deities (including Mother Gaia and Father Uranus) and preceded the Olympian deities (the Greek gods living on Olympus.  Zeus, Apollo, that whole bunch.) (Though Zeus was supposedly a Titan also, he apparently thought he was better than his family, so he separated himself. Stuck up little snot.)  Many Titans lived on Mount Othrys, especially the 12 directly descended from Gaia and Uranus.) And they stood tall, some as 12' or more, literally standing over mere men.  Some of them were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with those definitions sometimes radically different from what we enlightened 21st century dwellers consider good or bad.  But we’ll pay attention to the most famous Titan (who wasn't Zeus.)

Prometheus was the Titan/god/demi-god/deity/whatever credited with sculpting men from clay and breathing life into us lesser beings.  For that he is a hero.  But, friend to Mankind, he did, later, a while after creating men, one thing that eternally damned him in the eyes of Zeus and the other gods.  He gave mankind, who to that point had only sunlight to live by and ate only raw food, the power of creation – Fire.  For that, the Olympians chained him to a rock and eternally sentenced him to having his liver ripped out by eagles, only to have the liver regrown in time for the next day (interestingly, the liver is the only internal organ that can regenerate.  2/3rds of your liver can be removed and eventually what is left will grow back.  Neat, huh?)  So, according to the ancient Greeks, Prometheus was The Fire-Bringer.  The one deity who allowed mankind to be more than just a talking animal.  He gave us civilization.  (Not Zeus and the rest of those louts, they just used what Prometheus did against us.)(Somewhat of a Satan in Eden thing, but the gods were already complete d(male external reproductive organ that you can also pee through) by the time Prometheus gave fire.  In Judeo-Christianity, it was Satan who was the complete d(merotycapt) and God who was the virtuous one (or mostly virtuous, we don't/can't understand what God does, for the most part.)

So, a Titan is a mythical person, a Man amongst men.  Someone who towers over mere mortals.  And the best of them gave us Life and Fire.

(For a somewhat humorous and different look at the Greek mythology, I recommend reading "Pyramid Power" by David Freer and Eric Flint.  And it's follow up, "Pyramid Power" does the same for Norse mythology.)

Fire can be our friend, allowing us to cook, to heat, to light, and to make stuff.  Fire can also be our worst enemy.  Destroying and killing, leaving devastation in its wake.  In one of the Norse Sagas, the god Thor was tricked by the Troll king(or some giants) into three contests, one of which was eating.  Thor lost to a tiny little troll/giant who ate everything, food, tableware, the table itself, only later having it revealed that the troll/giant was instead Fire (Thor also lost a wrestling match to a wizened troll/giant who was Old Age, and lost a drinking match by not being able to drain a horn of mead, which turned out to be The Ocean.  But being Thor, he tried, he really tried.  He finally figured out he was bespelled, broke the horn on the face of his tormenter, then went all Thor on everyone's buttocks.  Good Thor.  Wonder if he was thor from all that Thor-ing?) (I find the Norse Sagas much more human-friendly than the Greek myths.  Still not totally human-friendly, but definitely more friendly than the Olympians.)

Wild Fire, specifically wildfire, is a wild and dangerous ‘creature’ that yearly an average of more than 73,000 wildfires burn about 7 million acres of federal, tribal, state, and private land and more than 2,600 structures in the United States.*  Destroying wilderness, killing animals, destroying farms, businesses, homes, whole towns, killing people, leaving behind utter destruction in its wake.  And where there is wildfire, there are those who fight it.  Sometimes just regular old people, to regular old fire-fighters to those who are specialized in wildfire firefighting. 

In the United States, Wildland Firefighters range from the pure amateur, a farmer or rancher with an old deuce-and-a-half with a tank on it, to organized and funded Hotshot Teams and Smoke Jumpers (the firefighting versions of elite ground troops and Rangers.)  Actual official ground group qualification levels include: Fuels Mitigation Crews, who deal with taking care of stuff that can burn; to Level II Incident Management Teams (IMT), capable of defeating smaller fires or serving as 2nd line troops on larger fires; to Level I IMTs, called ‘Hotshots,’ that handle the biggest fires.  Most IMTs are comprised of firefighters from multiple agencies on the local and state level.  Both types of IMTs can be shipped around the nation, and into Canada, to battle wildland fires.

The city of Prescott, Arizona, is the only municipality to ever have a Level I IMT.  From the Prescott (AZ) Fire Department’s website:

The Granite Mountain Hotshots were a crew within the Prescott Fire Department whose mission was to fight wildfires and when not so, engaged in work to reduce growth of fire-prone vegetation. Originally founded in 2001 as a fuels mitigation crew, they were later formed into Crew 7, a Type II IA hand-crew in 2004, and eventually transitioned into a Type I Inter-agency hotshot crew in 2008. 

Get that?  A municipal fire crew designated specifically for wildfire defense went from the lowest level to the highest level in 7 years.  From aiding the ‘real wildland firefighters’ to being the ‘real wildland firefighters.’ 

The Granite Mountain Hotshots were active in fighting fires for years, all over the nation.  From being the brush-draggers to being the guys in the hot-spot.  On call, attacking fire on foot, using shovels, mattocks, axes, chainsaws, fire-cans and flares.  Carrying their tools and fuel and survival gear on their backs.  Humping up and down hill and dale, in hot, nasty dry environments full of ash, embers and flame.  They travelled to and from and from spot to spot in two crew vehicles and some pickups, and being heloed in and out as needed.  They got air support in the form of tanker aircraft and helos.  All of this required great commitment and great sacrifice on their parts, as it tore their bodies up and took them away from their families.

June 28th, 2013, saw the start of the Yarnell Hill Fire, near Yarnell, AZ.  Caused by lightning, fueled by long-term drought conditions, high daytime temperatures and extremely erratic high winds, it would burn till July 10th, destroying 8,400 acres of land, 129 structures and injuring 23, mostly firefighters.  But…

June 30th, 2013, the 20 men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were called to set a counter-fire in front of the main fire, burning towards the town of Yarnell.  Initially the burn went well, but then an air tanker put it out, forcing them to withdraw and reset closer to the town.

But the winds picked up, pushing a wall of flame and embers ahead of the main fire, right into the retreating men. Caught by the sudden rushing fire, in a shallow 'v' that would funnel winds and fire to them, they struggled to create a protective clearing.  They tried to call in air tanker support, to no avail.  They dug shallow dugouts.  They wrapped themselves in protective portable fire shelters.  They did everything conceivably possible.  And Fire, in one of its evil forms, blew over them in a firestorm.  19 died in that horrible clearing, some blown out of their protective firesacks, all burned to death.  One, saved only by fickle fate, a lookout, separated from his team members, survived, rescued by another Hotshot team. 

19 men.  From one city.  Doing what they were trained to do.  Doing what they were good at.  What they loved doing.  Brothers, fathers, sons.  Loved.  Gone.

They were Titans, walking amongst men.



Granite Mountain Hotshots
in order of seniority
End of Shift – 30 June, 2013
Eric Marsh, 43
Jesse Steed, 36
Clayton Whitted, 28
Robert Caldwell, 23
Travis Carter, 31
Travis Turbyfill, 27
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Joe Thurston, 32
Wade Parker, 22
Anthony Rose, 23
Garret Zuppiger, 27
Scott Norris, 28
Dustin Deford, 24
William Warneke, 25
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
John Percin, 24
Grant McKee, 21
Sean Misner, 26
Granite Mountain Memorial at the Prescott Fire Department
from http://www.prescott-az.gov/services-safety/fire/about-the-prescott-fire-department/granite-mountain-hotshots/


The Prescott Fire Department has not rebuilt their Hotshot team, instead transferring low-level wildfire mitigation to their regular crews.  The scars of their loss run deep.


*  stats taken from https://www.fs.fed.us/managing-land/fire

RESOURCES

Prescott Fire Department:
http://www.prescott-az.gov/services-safety/fire/about-the-prescott-fire-department/granite-mountain-hotshots/
A short but fact-filled site by the Prescott Fire Department.


Granite Mountain Hotshots State Park:
https://azstateparks.com/hotshots
This is an Arizona state park at the site of the disaster.  Take a look at the terrain the men faced in their final moments.  The website also has bios and pictures of the fallen.  You can get lost here for hours.


“Only the Brave”:
This is a recent movie release (2017) dealing with this group.  How they lived.  How they fought fires.  How they died.  The time-scale is compressed.  What I call a “Watch Once” movie.  Because it is that good, and that powerful, but also that horrific.   
You know the stupid saying here in the USA that it isn’t ‘real’ until someone makes a movie about it?  Well, I remember in 2013 hearing about a wildfire team that died, but I was stupid and wrapped up in myself and then was recently watching a movie about wildland firefighters and got this sense of foreboding.  And by the end of the movie I was crying, loudly.  (Mrs. Andrew thinks I’m a big, mushy goober somedays.)  Watch the end of the movie, all the way to the credits.  It’s important.  Especially the message from the lone survivor.  Go watch it.  (Gah, watched this movie a week ago and I'm still tearing up just thinking about them.  I mourn all 20 of those men.  The survivor, well, did he?  Part of him, maybe, did, but part of him died, too.)

original movie poster, copyright Columbia Pictures

34 comments:

  1. Well said, they were indeed Titans among men. Just bought the movie "Only the Brave" yesterday at Wally World. We will be watching it tonight.

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    1. Thanks.

      Until I watched it on the HoBO, I had forgotten about it. Selfish me. The movie has generated much inner thought.

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  2. Excellent tribute to brave men.

    Thanks, Beans.

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    1. Rough men stand ready in many ways to protect us from our enemies. Sometimes the Rough Men lose. We need to remember the Rough Men we've lost, why we lost them, and try to be more like them.

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  3. Good post. We tend to focus on.mil heroes around these parts so it's good to expand our horizons. Prescott is a pretty cool town by the way. Lots of history there.

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    1. Yep. There's a reason that other services have rank structure, tend to attract rough people, and tend to be not politically correct. They face the elephant in their own ways. And sometimes being so close to family and friends means their passing is that much more poignant, much more obvious, the deep surface wound that kills, rather than the cancer of loss that servicemember's families feel.

      It reminds me of the Sullivan Brothers, or some of those small towns up north or down south that lost all their sons on one day in the 1860's. One day here. Next day gone. Leaving an unfilled hole in everyone's hearts.

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  4. Echo Tuna's sentiments Beans. Braver men than I, God rest their souls.

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    1. I understand death. I am scared of cancer as a nasty, lingering, slow death. But Fire? Fire, Wild Evil Fire, scares the everliving stuffing out of me. It's the only thing so far that I've found that turns on the Flight reflex. It stops me in my tracks, and my mind goes down so many dark and painful paths all at once, it just overwhelms me. I hate evil fire. And I am scared spitless of it.

      Structure fires are scary, but they tend to be easily contained. They scare me pretty bad. There's a reason I have 4 fire extinguishers in my apartment, and a hose outside long enough to reach all the way to the back.

      But wildland fires? Nu-uh. They have minds to themselves. They act sentient, working against any attempt to stop them.

      And the men who fight them are truly brave.

      Truly, God rest and keep their souls close at hand, and forgive them what earthly sins they committed, as actions are louder than thoughts or words.

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  5. Brave, indeed. My Bachelors is in Rangeland Management, so this topic is of more than passing interest to me. Below are a few links to some history from my old stomping grounds out west.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/fire-service-line-of-duty-deaths/july-9th-1953-15-firefighters-killed-in-rattlesnake-fire-located-in-the-grindsto/781938575300423/

    In the opening panorama, you can see sort of triangle-shaped open spaces on the ridge in the distance. These are from controlled burns. A program was developed wherein air temperature, humidity, fuel moisture content and other factors were closely monitored. When conditions were right, a line of fire was started across the hill. Conditions were such that the ends of the fire could not produce enough heat to sustain itself. The fire would sputter up the hill and eventually go out. The length of the initial fire line determined the size of the burn. More info here--

    https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr058/psw_gtr058_6b_bungarz.pdf

    The east side of the Coast Range is covered by vast areas of Chaparral. It is an oily, waxy plant evolved to survive in hot, dry climates. When dried out in the summer, it burns fast and very hot. The smoke is black. In the following link, look a the photo on the right. Can you imagine trying to fight a fire in that terrain?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaparral

    Air attack--

    http://earlyaviators.com/enolta7.htm

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    1. Thanks. You meet the most diverse and interesting people here on the Chant.

      In doing backup research for this post, I wandered down many tangential paths, finally deciding I needed to just cut back to the basics. And now I know what I'll be doing when the afternoon thunderboomers roll in and the missus crawls under the covers and hibernates.

      I can watch air tankers for hours. Especially those big Mars planes up Canada way. Or the movie "Always." That's a movie I can watch multiple times, just for the planes. The acting is just icing on the cake, the music is extra icing.

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    2. +1 on those Martin Mars and the movie "Always". Here's a one-off for you.

      http://www.tailsthroughtime.com/2010/06/in-late-1950s-many-of-surplus-boeing-b.html

      https://www.reddit.com/r/aviation/comments/4hlrp7/b17_flying_fortress_with_rollsroyce_dart/

      In a dusty box somewhere I have a magazine article about this ship. The linked article says that the pilots made drops with the two outboard engines feathered. I'm not sure I buy that part, but then I'm not a pilot. The article I have does mention routinely flying in transit on only the two inboard engines. and that with all four running, it could have easily exceeded the max airspeed for the airframe in level flight.

      IIRC, the consensus in my article was that conditions at the time of the crash were so bad that all air attack should have been grounded. Witnesses said that the pilots made their drop running down hill on the back side of terrain into a valley. When they tried to pull out, the plane rotated, but did not climb, and pancaked into the ground. In that hot, thin air, all the power in the world means nothing if there just aren't enough air molecules for the props to grab.

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    3. Yeah, takes a special set of 'juevos' to fly through hot air. Reminds me of some of the B-29 stories from flying through the Tokyo firestorms are hair raising. 500-1000' of fluxuation of altitude with those long wings, in a plane known to catch fire. Yikes.

      I find flying boats to be so beautiful.

      And as to the B-17? Such a beautiful aircraft. Really looks like what a bomber 'should' look like, vs the -24, which always looked like a pregnant whale with a thin wing. You see a -24 you think 'lumbering,' you see a -17 you think 'whoaaaa...'

      That -17 crash, yeah, sounds like some serious errors were made. And you're right, all the power in the world won't save you when you meet one of the boundary conditions, like space, ground, other object in the way.

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    4. The B-17 gets my vote, but then you have probably seen me post here before that my dad flew them. The B-24 was a great bomber, and with everything working, had it all over the B-17--range, speed, and payload. The thing about the B-17 is that it would seemingly stay in the air with nothing working.

      My one and only experience officially fighting a wildfire came the summer of my junior year in high school. I was at my summer job in Tulelake, CA. A call went out for volunteers to fight a fire on the "Peninsula". (Open Google Earth, go to Newell, CA, go to street view on hwy 139, and look SW. I was in the low saddle about 1/4 mile behind the near cliff face). It was really just a sputtering grass fire in sparse sage brush. I wound up on foot packing a shovel and tagging along with the ground air controller.

      Even at that young age, I had a keen interest in warbirds, and thought myself pretty well studied. I watched with great anticipation as the A/C called in a drop. The approach was over the fields from the NW, and the drop missed us by about 100 ft. Part of my brain was going (cue the movie "The Fifth Element) itsa, itsa, itsa,..and then "What the heck IS that?". Turns out, it was the first PB4Y-2 Privateer I had ever seen. And the flyover was just like the one at the 0:50 mark in this video---

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0SSB1iDgt0

      The grass fire was extinguished in short order, with only a couple of lightly singed jack rabbits to show for it.

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    5. Never had to fight a fire, just done the 'WTF' thingy at campgrounds when people leave and their firepit is still smoking, or roaring. Actually working a groundfire and having a Privateer fly over and drop, wow, sounds awe-inspiring. Love me some big honking piston engined planes.

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  6. Thank you Beans for this post. My Dad, and my 2nd husband were volunteer firemen, and his Dad was a professional fire fighter. I grew up from the age of 4 til I was about 40 hanging around fire stations one way and another. Was in the Ladies Auxiliary for about 15 years. Firefighters are a group that does "family" better than just about anyone I have ever meet, outside of military guys who were in multiple battles together, because firefighters look at firefighting as a battle. The EMT's and paramedics have the privilege of seeing humanity at their worst most times. Talk to someone who just lost 4 high school kids in a fiery car crash. Even though the kids were not kids they personally knew, they will still blame themselves for not being able to bring them back, or to get them out of the crash fast enough. No one would have been able to do so, but they will never forget and will train twice as hard to try to be sure such things never happen again. They will go to the High School to do trainings and presentations about bodies, booze, and fast cars and how deadly that mix can be.

    But, yes, wild fires are just that...wild, and no one knows just what will happen next. My heart went out to the families and friends of that Hotshot team when I first heard about it. I don't think I would ever be able to see the movie. I get all teary just thinking about it. But we should never forget them, nor take for granted the job their brethren in the fire service do. Titans is a very good description.

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    1. You are welcome. There's a reason for the closeness that families get amongst each other. It's tribal. The tribe provides support in good times and in bad. But very rarely does one whole firehouse get wiped out. 9/11 was one time. This was another.

      Vice President Joe Biden said at the memorial, "All men are created equal. But then, a few became firefighters." Very true.

      One of my fighting buddies had a mid-life 'crisis' and went into firefighting. He was the first firefighter to show up at a large wreck on I-75 north of Tampa. There was a tv show about the wreck and they interviewed him. His description of going from car to car, full of shattered people, was haunting. Knowing him in happier times, I could see how it haunted him to relate his experiences.

      A 'good' movie about wildland firefighters is, as I mentioned above, "Always." A much better remake of "A Man named Joe." Nice planes, nice music, good, positive ending. Much more 'family friendly' than "Only the Brave." I watched OtB over a week ago and it still haunts me.

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  7. Both brave beyond belief and crop duster pilot crazy. Going against that monster in unfamiliar territory, air temperatures often pushing 100 F, add in the heat from the fire.

    Poison oak, exploding trees, changing winds, poor footing, on the line maybe 36 hours or more (not unusual for them working the Tubbs and Nuns Fires last year).

    God bless their brave souls, and may Sts. Florian, Barbara, and Michael pray to God for them.

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    1. Very much so. We in North Central Florida remember the summer of 1998 all too well. That was the summer of the great wildland fires and the Firestorm, which ate a good portion of the forests up/down/over here. The woods are just now getting to where they don't look ravaged and spooky. Actually watching the fire go against the prevailing winds just to fruck someone's house up, yeah, those monsters are alive and evil.

      (Of course, didn't help that lots of people fought against controlled burns to stop such a thing happening, but did they learn? No.)

      There's a special place in heaven for those that lose their lives protecting us from evil. Just as there's a special place in hell for those who bring evil amongst us. And arsonists are a special level of evil.

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    2. And you named it well. Monster. An evil, evil Monster. One of those primal Monsters that is in our species consciousness, almost a genetic racial memory.

      Monster. Good name for it.

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    3. During the fires here last October we had them from all over the US. Also Canada and Australia. Calif. Dept. of Corrections had a fenced off section of the encampment for their prisoner-staffed crews - I saw 4 or 5 different units of them. Fighting fires for something like 75 cents a day.

      Here is a list of who all came to help: http://www.sonomanews.com/news/7542255-181/who-saved-sonoma-a-list
      A quick look at one section of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds parking lot where some were encamped. I pulled over so I could get the camera on my phone going then drove past, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_74QzLvBGmQ

      I sent a little "Thank you" note to the Australian Embassy, along with attached photos of their camp for them to pass along to their crews.

      For some horrific footage of what happens when wildland fire meets urban look up Tubbs Fire on Youtube.

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    4. From Australia? Well, I seem to remember us sending them assets, so some reciprocity is nice. I am so tired of other nations, whom we've bailed out in troubled times, standing back and just watching as we deal with horror and tragedy ourselves. Good to know we still have some friends in this world.

      During the 1998 'Summer of Fire' here in North Central Florida, we had crews from all over come to our state. We'd see them come into town on busses and crew trucks, stop off at the Wally-World to load up on clean stuff and supplies, then hit the cheap hotels for some R&R. Local washaramas got a lot of business from that summer. That was the nicer part of the summer. Worse was watching a wall of smoke move block by block from the north side of town to the south. No flames, just dense, almost night-time during the day dense smoke. Made living in a house surrounded by trees really uncomfortable, to say the least.

      As to those prison crews? I find it a good use of resources. Installs some useful skills, some training, an understanding of trusting and needing support from a diverse group of people. Those are the ones that will survive prison, will come out and actually have a chance to change their lives. I've heard that quite a few, when they get out, join back up with fire crews. Good.

      On a related note, watched a program about Angora Prison, in Louisiana, a couple years ago. Seems that the inmates that work the farms and participate in the Rodeo have a much better chance of making it if they get out than those that don't participate. Now, farming in Louisiana during the summer is no picnic (my dad escaped Louisiana and only returned for short visits) so it isn't like it is easier than sitting on one's tailbone in air conditioning. Yet there's always a waiting list for even the worse chores and tasks. But our more enlightened brothers and sisters out there think Angora's system is cruel. Something to think about.

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    5. Yep. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJH6fv5M0Q4 It's hard to see, but one tent has their flag draped on it. I don't know for sure, but my guess is that is their CO.

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    6. Er, that seems to go to some guy doing 18th century cooking. Australia, founded in 18th century, I can see the connection but I do not think it was what you were looking for.

      Though it is an interesting video.

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  8. A very great post. Such brave people.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. They were, and all the other teams are. Their little fireshelter thingy that they use looks just a little less flimsy than a hefty bag. And people have survived fires in them. That takes bravery.

      I knew I had to write about them when I was still reacting to the movie a couple days later. Fortunately, our noble host had today open, so I was able to get in this post. One of those "I felt the need" things, and I am so glad that I have this forum to get it out.

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  9. Some men run towards the sound of gunfire, and some run towards the smell of smoke.

    They all serve to protect us from harm.

    God Bless you all.....

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    1. Very much so.

      And let's not forget the people in the back, the radio people and dispatchers. One of the horrid scenes in the movie listed above is listening to the radio calls...

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    2. A friend of mine was working "On Console" at Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy at the time) when the Apollo Test Crew fire happened.

      He said he never felt so helpless in his life. Being so close and not being able to help was bad, but not nearly as bad as listening to the radio chatter during the fire.

      One of the helicopter pilots who flew for Sea Launch was formerly a water dropping chopped pilot for the Los Angeles County Fired Department. He was medically retired from that particular duty, as he'd flown into smoke and fires so many times that he developed severe asthma.

      He had quite a few True Stories he shared......

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    3. ooops....meant "CHOPPER pilot"!

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    4. My dad knew all three Apollo 1 astronauts. It was not a good idea to push conspiracy theories at him about the moon program.

      The one person I knew who had very bad, I mean really bad bad PTSD from Vietnam was a medical transport guy. He didn't handle things well at all, but the two tunnel rats, 1 SF guy and the weird Marine Recon dude all did well. Weird how things get to people.

      I remember when Challenger blew up. Wife and I were watching the NASA channel and they kept cutting from stuff falling into the water to the guys in the control room, and you heard the one guy plaintively calling out for the crew to respond. And then the Flight Director called it. The guy calling just collapsed. That was horrible. Was taping the thing for posterity, just ended up chucking the tape, not even bothering to record over it.

      I worked at the local PD and you could tell who the good dispatchers were. They were the ones that had to get transferred to records after 4-5 years for a rest. Some of the stuff those mostly ladies heard was just life alteringly horrid. Bleh. I just got to see most of the disgusting pictures, which was bad enough.

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  10. I was working at Hughes Aircraft at the time, and since Challenger had a Hughes guy aboard as Payload Specialist, we had TV's set up everywhere. Pretty grim because we all knew what we were seeing.

    I was working at a DirecTV uplink facility on 911, and we got see the live news feeds unedited, as it happened. All the horrible things you heard from boots-on-the-ground people that were there are true.

    Yep. A good friend of mine was a Ranger in 'Nam. He was on his fourth tour when his luck ran out. Was offered a desk job for life, but took medical retirement because his life goal was to finish his fourth tour, and go back and be an Instructor at the Ranger School. He was pretty cool about his experience, but his son, who served one tour in Bosnia, came back quite disturbed. All my buddy could say about it was "He must have seen some really bad shit that he can't talk to ME about it".

    I listened to my scanners for 20 years back in Lost Angeleez. I've heard dispatchers have to request relief, and heard some descriptions of bad stuff. Life in The Big City is combat for the cops, and as you say, sometimes the support people in the rear get affected by it, too....

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  11. The support people can't get resolution like the guy on the front line can. They hear or see snippets of horrid information, but don't get the 'perp walk' part of cop or even combat stuff.

    9-11? An acquaintance can't stand the sound of balloons popping. He used to be a NY cop, had to get out. Bleh. They're (the tv people) have only in the last 4 years really started releasing some of the truly horrid stuff that's been on tape. "The Falling Man" is not a documentary for the feint of heart.

    Bosnia? Yeah, things were/are bad there. Had a Junior High math teacher who was a combat photographer specifically tasked to take photos of the concentration camps. A lot of his 'work' was used at Nuremburg. Yeah, that bad. Found out how bad when some smart-jerk spouted off Holocaust denial stuff and he brought in his personal slide show and scrap books. The stuff in the history books? Bleached and sanitized. That's the level of horror committed by both sides against the other and themselves in that horror of Bosnia. A thousand years of hatred released all at once is a way to describe that horrid war. Hope your friend's son got or getting help. Letting stuff like that fester isn't good, isn't good at all.

    Sorry to hear about you loosing one of yours on Challenger. That was bad. My wife noticed the side flare and said something was wrong right before it did. It's weird, no matter how distantly 'related' a person in a company is, the loss still hits. Hits harder the better the company is.

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    1. Meant to say "Junior High math teacher from WWII...." Gah-bleh. Brain tired. Good night, all.

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  12. Yeah, the front-line people get "closure" real fast. Those of us "In The Rear With The Gear" have to make-do as best we can.

    I had people asking me if I knew Greg Jarvis for three years afterwards. Hughes had something like 70,000 employees at the time, so no, I didn't know him.

    Some of the women control operators had to request relief after seeing the live video we were getting on 9-11. As soon as it happened we swung an antenna to one of the satellites with the same feeds the networks edit and/or delay before they send it out, and patched in to the house video system and direct to the Main Control Room. I couldn't watch much of it, and I was getting off shift soon, so I didn't have to watch it.

    My buddy's son is a computer geek, and he threw himself into it 100% after he was in treatment for his PTSD a while. I gave him a little stuffed penguin named "Tux" after I found out he'd been using Linux almost as long as I had. "Tux" is the mascot for Linux, and to have your own stuffed Tux is pretty geeky. It was a trade show giveaway from a Linux convention I'd gone to, and I thought it might give him a chuckle. My buddy told me he was enthralled with the little Tux, and almost treated it like a service animal. Found out later it was a significant aid to his road back from PTSD Hell.

    Never would have thought in a million years that a little stuffed toy could make such a difference in somebody's life.

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