29 June 2018


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 29 June 2018

I do not care whether you're a Democrat or you're a Republican or an Independent. We must pull for the people who are wearing the uniform of the armed forces. These people weren't drafted. They enlisted because they believe. Tommy Lasorda

Yesterday morning a flyboy retired.

The Air Force colonel - Vice Commander, 55th Wing - a command pilot who amassed over 3,800 hours in more than a dozen different aircraft (trainers to fighters to reconnaissance) and supported seven major combat operations was done. 

With a big jet just back from a world-wide mission and momentarily hangered for pre-mission maintenance as backdrop and the occasional whine of jet engines on the tarmac, the colonel was celebrated and decorated and thanked for a career of selfless service to our country.

And his family honored.

Sitting surrounded by an audience of less than a couple hundred - that included a few generals and admirals and colonels and scores of enlisted senior to junior - I thought what a shame more Americans cannot witness a moment like this. 

Tragic really.

For this colonel and all those - uniformed and not - who gathered to bid farewell represent the tiny cadre of citizens who selflessly make our relatively safe and carefree everyday life possible.

Though a battle-tested warrior, emotion got the better of him a time or two - so he paused and finished what he had to say; about all the others that made his service possible.

He's been a neighbor the past 15 months. We met within the first month. And I was impressed when he told me he'd just finished reading 'With the Old Breed' by E. B. Sledge and asked, innocently, if I was familiar with it. 

Of course. 

He could not say enough about Marines.

Post-ceremony shaking hands he commented not about himself nor flying but about Marines and his thankfulness for them.

I hugged his wife and daughters and went home.

After shedding coat and tie I turned on the hearings on Capitol Hill - Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and FBI Director Wray testifying. 

The contrast of formalities - military retirement and testimony centered on high crimes, committed by federal law enforcement et al. against country - strange. 

Tragic really.

Every word, some humorous some riveting, the colonel's retiring officer and guest speaker had to say credible and believable. 

Every word, all heartfelt, the retiring colonel had to say credible and believable. 

These were honorable men. 

I listened in disbelief and disgust to some congressmen and women and the witnesses (and they were under oath). 

Honorable not a descriptor that came to mind. 

Tragic really. 

In short, yesterday morning I was amongst our country's finest - warriors and a class of citizen unknown to most. Later in the morning I watched a gaggle - of weasels - I'd rather not be around (but am still oath bound to protect and defend). 

Life does not get much more ironic. 

But the day ended on a high note. I watched something American - boys (pop) fly catching - the last game of the College World Series. Congratulations, Oregon State Beavers! 

Thank you! Tommy Lasorda.

And ...

Thank you! brother and sister believers.  

Semper Fidelis. 

1 comment:

Jim said...

And thank you as well Andy. If memory serves me, we first met at my retirement; sorry I missed yours