Thursday, July 14, 2005

Old Enemies

Sorry Sherry,

I just read that you tagged me. I've been quite busy and a bit of a globe trotter. I'll have to tell you about Turkish prison some time. Believe me that's a whole nother story! Congrats to Shad on the job. Here goes:

1.How many books do you own?
Amy answered the tag with "you know I can't read!" I answer this question with, "You know I can't count!" Especially that high. In my 5-child-homeschooled-family counting books is like counting fish in a tank. And I'm not sure how many books I have loaned out.

2. What was the last book you bought?
Go figure. The last book I bought was a Chilton's Manual for my recently acquired 1966 Ford Bronco.

3. What was the last book you read?
The last book I read for real was Plymouth Pioneers. It's a kid's book I read to Jake. The last one I read to me was Wayne Jacobsen's He Loves Me. (Just had to read it again.)

4. Name five books that mean something to you.
1. The book of Hebrews and the Miles family converted me.
2. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee opened my eyes and changed me forever.
3. Spiritual Authority also by Nee humbled me and taught me submission.
4. Shepherding A Child's Heart By Ted Tripp changed the way I parent and forever affected the lives of my children and grandchildren.
5. We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Hal Moore. Most young American men carry with them a morbid curiosity. When I was in high school all the guys liked to rent the Faces of Death video series. I never did because I played like I was too cool to have that morbid curiosity. It was there, though I just didn't want any one to see it. Over a three-year period, several events cured me of any shred of that kind of curiosity.

I met Hal Moore in early 1999 as I was reading his book. He came to speak to my Squadron Officer School class in Montgomery, Alabama. I was struck by the pain and pride he carried with him thirty-four years after the events that comprise his story. He was over 80 years old (I think) and he could still name each of the 79 members of his unit who were killed in the battle for LZ X-Ray. He also could talk about their families and even what became of those they left behind.

Just a few months prior to reading this book I escorted the remains of a friend who died in a helicopter crash. I took him home to be buried in Ohio. The small town funeral director had known Phil as a boy. I watched as he handed the widow Kathy her husband's wedding ring. She hadn't known that it survived the fire. She broke. So did I but inside so no one could see.

A couple years later I stopped for coffee at Starbucks on my way to work and marveled at how beautiful the day was. The snow on Mt. Charleston was reflecting a pink-orange sunrise and I thanked God that I was there to see it. Later that day, I got my final dose of morbid curiosity cure. We scrambled to the helicopter after two fighter jets collided up on the range. We made great time. It took us less than 10 minutes to get to the helicopter, start it up and lift off. As we flew towards the coordinates we were given it became evident where we needed to go. We could see the huge plume of black smoke. Two other fighters were still in the air and trying to talk our eyes onto their wingman on the ground who was using his survival radio to talk to them. We found him. He was fine. The other fighter pilots were very anxious about the other half of the mid-air collision. They had only seen one parachute and had only spoken with one pilot on the ground. I was the first to spot pilot #2. My first sighting of a person violently killed was the last straw for me.

I now long for safety, security and a simple life. We all have a bus wreck mentality. We all look at the pile-up on the freeway. What do we want to see? You don't want to see what I have.

On a less depressing note, I was soaking my feet in my hotel spa in Izmir a couple weeks ago and a guy who looked like Jay Leno sat next to me to soak his feet too. Turns out he was a bomber pilot and retired from the military in the early 90s....The Russian military! So here's this guy sitting next to me who used to be a Soviet bomber pilot! We had a nice talk. He said he now imports dried fruit and nuts from the US and Turkey to Russia. Or maybe he's KGB. Who knows?