Monday, December 8, 2014

A Gathering of Eagles

     I retired from the US Air Force 21 years ago.  This career provided me with the honor of serving with some of the finest men and women this country will ever know.  Part of my journey throughout retirement has included visiting some very old and close friends with whom I shared many a long deployment in support of our country. 
     Major Jody Arnold was a Mission Crew Commander and my Flight Commander in the 966th AWACTS during my tenure there as ART/CDMT Superintendent.  It was part of the largest Programmed Flying Training Program in the entire Air Force.  Working for Jody was always more like working 'with' Jody.  He was very much like a 2nd father to me.  We had tremendous mutual respect for each other's abilities and professional acumen.  In other words you could say he kept my butt out of trouble.  Our flight consisted of nearly 30 instructors whose job it was to provide flight training for the Computer and Radar Techs entering the AWACS crew force.  It was a tremendous honor for me to have Major Arnold come back a year after his own retirement to preside over mine.  Barb and I really enjoyed sitting down with Jody and Juanita and reliving some old times as well as catching up on our current life paths. 
     Jody and wife Juanita reside on their 80 acre ranch in Salado, Texas.  Since his Air Force retirement Jody has worked in teaching and currently as a Continuous Learning Improvements Projects Coach at Scott White Hospital. 

     Colonel Jesse Shanks was a Mission Crew Commander and perhaps the most charismatic, battle tested warrior AWACS has ever known.  He served with many other aircrew members that will always remember how well he took care of his crews.  He knew the value of teamwork.  Although I was not a member of his 'hard crew', I had the honor of flying with Col. Shanks a couple of times.  I will always remember his balanced concerned for the mission and the men and women who served.  I remember him coming back and talking to me while I was working a particularly difficult radar issue and asking if there was anything he could do for me.  Afterwards he thanked me for my hard work and successful problem resolution, offering to buy me a beer.  "Uncle Jesse" was always Mission first.......crewmembers pretty damned close after.  Always first on station for a mission and last off the aircraft, that was Uncle Jesse.  Jesse and his wife, Doris are both fully retired and reside in San Marcos, Texas.
     I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with both these fine warriors, gentlemen, and friends.   Barb and I will always cherish the warm Texas greetings, fellowship, and southern hospitality shared during both these visits.  I will not soon forget Juanita's Green Chicken or Doris' Texas Sheet Cake and Jalapeno Bacon Deviled Eggs!  Although these photographs may add evidence to the contrary, I was not the shortest person in AWACS or the US Air Force! 
WiFi courtesy of our Verizon MiFi Hotspot.

No comments:

Post a Comment