Salutes and Skateboards.
Two of my favorite local groms came to the park last week and showed me this model of an F-117a Stealth Fighter. As I stare at it today on Veterans Day, I am reminded how much days like this mean to me. My grandfather, father, uncle, cousin and my daughter's mom have all served in the military and my entire family has always been more than patriotic. In 2012 my grandmother, Pauline, passed away peacefully in her sleep early Veterans Day morning. I also was in the USAF from 1991-1995. Ever since I got honorably discharged, I always opt to go to work on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I feel like being able to go to work is a gift granted from the men and women before me who gave their all for our nation. Right now there are lots of deployed U.S. troops who would give anything to just go to work and be able to go home at the end of their day to be with family. And then there are the ones who never made it home. I salute them all. So back to the groms and the F-117a... The “117” is the aircraft I worked on during my 4 years of active duty. I noticed that aside from some serious rudder and exhaust damage that this model had stickers from my old unit, the 416th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and Tactical Fighter Squadron. I smiled at the memories and as I looked closer it was the exact "tail number" that I was assigned to, 838, the squadron commander's jet. The aircraft was nicknamed "Tinkerbell" and could deliver about 4,000 pounds of laser guided TNT into your cereal bowl from 32,000 feet. Ultra-Accurate. We would only fly at night and for most of my term the jet was classified “Secret”. Today they are boxed up somewhere in a hanger and most likely never to be used again in the military’s fighter jet inventory and I am here at the skate park in the town I grew up and somehow more proud to be an American than ever. Thanks to Zack and Chase for bringing me this model of “my” old airplane. As I skate around the park today I will remember those who served, those who I have served with and those that never made it home. Thank You.