Praetorium Honoris

Friday, October 23, 2015

Contemplating Eternity...

I had a post queued up to be published yesterday. I went to bed confident that I was ready for the morrow. That's when I received a message from my daughter.

I had heard about a Marine F/A-18C going down in the U.K., I didn't have any details as work (and life) have been rather busy as of late. The knowledge of that event hovered just beyond conscience thought. I needed to look for news of that crash, I don't know many Marine aviators, but I do know a couple. I only knew one who flew the Hornet.

Taj Sareen.

The message from my daughter indicated that she did know the pilot. With some trepidation I had to ask, I recognized the name immediately. I knew him too, but only in passing, having met him at Oceana some years back.


So it's been a sad couple of days. I have relatives and many friends in the aviation business. Most of them in Naval Aviation. Any crash or incident quickly ripples through the vast and intricate web of those tied to those brave men and women who fly for the Navy and the Corps. Bad news travels fast.

A dear friend of mine (Marcia - I hope you don't mind me calling you that) remarked today how small the world really is. The Marine Hornet crash occurred not 15 miles from her sister-in-law's house. Her brother and her husband had both served in the same Marine squadron as Taj. Back in the day when the Red Devils flew the mighty Phantom.

Small world indeed.


Upon returning to the manse after my labors at my place of gainful employment, I thought that I might just relax Thursday evening. I mean I had a blog post in the hopper, queued up and ready to go automagically on Friday morning. This is not that post.

I'm not ready to be funny or clever just yet. Though I had written the post before learning of Taj's passing, it didn't feel right to publish something along those lines the day after writing about his passing.

Perhaps I'll be humorous on Saturday, it just feels too soon right now.

Coming into the house on Thursday, after checking on the koi pond, I saw that sky in the opening photo. Made me think it did.

Life can be fleeting, ephemeral. Those we know and love could be around for years to come, or not. One never knows.

So stop and smell the roses, enjoy life when and where you can. Be with family and friends as much as you can. Eternity won't wait forever.

Sarge sends...


  1. The older I have become the more I realize how temporal life really is - we go from day to day assuming the next day will have the same opportunities as the previous and things will be the same until one unexpected isn't.

  2. The path I took shoved me right into the deep end of the eternity pool, so this is a lesson I learned the hard way, early and often. As I type this there's a kaleidoscope of images ricocheting around inside my squash housing group. I feel like I'm fortunate to have taken that path. I like rainbows and unicorns as much as anyone -- in fact I stopped to look at and photograph a beautiful rainbow this morning -- but I live in reality and I'm comfortable with her terms. I can be crushed by loss but I learned a long time ago that the sun will come up in the morning whether I'm crushed or not, whether I'm present or not.

    1. Yeah, if you let adversity and tragedy get you down you'll never get anywhere in life.

      Some days you just have to hitch your trousers up and Charlie Mike.

  3. From my favorite hymn.
    Tempted and tried will oft' me to wonder
    Why it should be thus all the day long;
    While there are others living about us,
    Never molested, though in the wrong.

  4. As I've gotten older, I've seen more friends and acquaintances pass away but when they're my age and older, I'm
    a little more prepared for their loss. Yes, I hate to see them go and I know I will miss them but I know that it's an
    inevitable part of life. But when you lose someone like Taj who's young, full of life and should have many years
    ahead of them, that's when it hits home and sinks in just how fleeting life can be.

    But I will have to say that based on my knowledge of the fighter jocks I knew in the past, I have a feeling that if God
    was to tell Taj that he could re-do his life but he would have to choose between being a fighter pilot and knowing
    how it could end or not flying in his new life, I bet he would still choose being a fighter pilot!

    Maybe Juvat or Tuna could better address this but just my thoughts. And again I will say R.I.P. Brother!

    1. Concur Russ. Fighter pilots are a breed apart, and I mean that in a GOOD way.

    2. I remember Lex stating at the very end that he'd rather be fighting snakes in the cockpit than having the best day in cubicle hell. I absolutely loved it and wouldn't have traded it for anything, although the thought of risking my life and leaving my family without a husband/father terrifies me now. I never thought about that risk when I was a JO, but definitely did when I was a DH with 2 kids. It's a purely hypothetical question of course, but you do it because you love it and the risks are mitigated by our training and safety factors, which is why we continue. Those factors are not a guarantee though. If I had a crystal ball and knew decisively that I would crash in a jet in England, then no, I wouldn't have chosen to continue, but that's impossible. However, I might have just flown and not gotten married! I was an NFO though and almost always had enough faith in either the pilots abilities, or my own ability to keep the pilot from doing something crazy. That doesn't work for a catastrophic failure of some part, bird-strike, etc., but there was faith in the maintainer as well. Anyway, you asked...

    3. Superb insight Tuna, thanks.

      I'm just thinking out loud here but it seems that what Russ brings up would be an excellent topic for a post.

      Not hinting, just thinking out loud.

    4. Russ,
      We all knew that COULD happen, All of us had close calls, it's what the job entailed. There were several evenings when I held my wife a little tighter and kissed her a little harder and she knew not to ask. Now if your hypothetical crystal ball told me it WOULD happen, that might make it different, but I don't think so.
      Heck, we're ALL gonna die. I'd much rather it be quick and over than long and lingering. And for someone to benefit by my actions immediately prior...
      People will remember Taj both for the things he did in life and with his life and for the selflessness in giving his life so that others wouldn't be hurt. I don't know a better epitaph.

  5. If you were to ask me right now to define Eternity, I'd have to say it is what comes next.
    So make the most of living in the moment.

    Now... I'm gonna attempt to do just that.

    1. It is what comes next, like was said yesterday, "You're a pretty smart guy Skip."

      Enjoy yourself.

  6. Through distant mists of memories,
    I hear them call my name;
    Those who served beside me,
    On a battleground of pain.

    Nothing left but memories,
    Of those forever young;
    Lives that ended suddenly,
    What would they have become?

    What price they paid for freedom,
    The sacrifice untold;
    Yet, here they are in memories,
    Not one will 'ere grow old.

    For I shall keep their names alive,
    Until my flame is gone;
    Then pass the torch to those who will,
    Remember....The Forever young.

  7. Several eye witnesses praised the USMC pilot 'Capt Taj Sareen' for his action in steering his jet away from a clutch of nearby homes. An honourable brave man indeed.

    1. Thanks EB.

      Taj was an awesome guy.

      (What happened with your blog? A number of us are rather concerned.)


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