Life lived in pursuit of happiness is commendable, it is usually embraced culturally and most of us go about this quest on a daily basis. Life lived in pursuit of another person’s happiness is one that requires strength, character, courage, and sacrifice. The men and women of our military posses these attributes in spades, my gratitude to them is deep, my respect for them profound.
As a kid I can remember going to airshows being silenced in the awe of what I was seeing. One of my earlier memories is going to one with my father; as I sat on his shoulders I formed an adoration of speed, of sound. My youth would not let me describe this in such eloquent words, but I’m sure my summation at the time went to the tune of, “wow.” The funny thing is that I attended the airshow again last year with my dad (though not on his shoulders) and the reaction was the same. I was made little by what I was seeing, and the experience of watching a vehicle on the edge of every bit of physics that the universe can throw at it was humbling. The percentage of women that want to date a fighter pilot is only surpassed by the percentage of men that want to be a fighter pilot.
Which brings me to the greatest honor that I have received as a photographer. A little over a year ago I received a call from the United States Air Force asking me if I was interested in being an honorary commander. I asked the question that many of you are probably asking right now, “what’s an honorary commander?”…. In short it is a position that a civilian holds in a unit of the Air Force that bridges the military to civilian gap. Be it the medical, engineering, janitorial, dentistry units, etc., most have an honorary that gets to experience comradery and share life experiences with those that serve a greater cause.
Without hesitation I said I would be honored to be a part of the program, not knowing how much of an understatement that would be. It was then I was told I would be the honorary commander of not just any squadron, I would be the honorary commander if the 425th Fighter Squadron, The Black Widows. At the induction there were at least a hundred inductees like myself, all accomplished in their respective fields, be it CEO’s of large corporations, surgeons, lawyers, and this 27 year kid. How out of place was I? When I walked in with my parents, they shook my father’s hand and welcomed him as the honorary of the 425th.
At this point you might be wondering why this was never mentioned until today…. In all honesty, this position, this opportunity and this honor meant too much. I wanted to be a part of the squad and constant blogging and tweeting about it would have gotten in the way of living it.
However, I sit here giddy like the little kid that went to the air show with his father. You see there is a specific perk that some have the good fortune of enjoying, and this experience is one I will be sharing with you all. In one week I will be waking up to more medical evaluations, followed by parachute and ejection seat training, because a dream that began at an airshow on my father’s shoulders will be realized…
I am going to fly in an F16.