As I was sitting here yesterday morning at oh-dark-thirty, I heard some jets departing. Two distinct groups of jets – maybe 15 to 20 minutes apart. Wasn’t paying that great of attention; I’ve heard it before. Then my daughter-in-law put a post on FaceBook about the 180th (Ohio Air National Guard, Toledo) jets departing on deployment – and it all came back. Oh, how I wish I were going with them…
I know what it’s like to sit in the early morning (0200) briefing. Dealing with trying to wake up, the anticipation of the departure, details of the deployment, etc.
I know what it’s like to step into the PE (personal equipment) room, checking out my gear. The light-hearted, nervous banter.
I know what it’s like when it’s finally time to step to the jet. The eager anticipation of finally ‘getting it going.’
I know what it’s like to greet the crew chief. More banter, concern that the jet will perform, and not leave me behind.
I know what it’s like to strap it on – the jet. The sounds, the smells, the activity on the flightline under the glow of artificial light.
And I know what it’s like to sit int he cockpit, awaiting the start signal. Alone with my thoughts. Will I measure up? Let’s get going. Stretching.
And finally we would be on our way. Start, taxi and eventually, takeoff – all uneventful, as planned. And in the later stages of the climb, when all was ‘right,’ I could finally relax for the first time the morning.
Yes, I know what it’s like – and I miss it terribly… But, on the other hand, I was so privileged – to have been a part of it all at one time. Just a deployment that hardly anyone took note of…
My spirit and prayers will be with those guys as they fly off into “Harm’s Way” here, over the next couple-3 months. And not just the aviators, but all those who departed with them…