Heroes on Hacksaw Ridge

There are so many great people that have lived in this world, and that currently live in this world.  I absolutely love it when I get to meet those heroic people.  

Unfortunately, we are losing more and more of the heroes from WWII everyday which means that many of their stories will be lost forever.  One of those unbelievable stories was recently made into a movie titled Hacksaw Ridge.  

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  The short version of the story is that this heroic man, Desmond Doss, refused to pick up a weapon, but wanted to do his part in the war effort.  So he volunteered as a medic in the Army.

Spoiler alert: he went on to save 75 men by carrying them off the battlefield and lowering them off the side of a hill known by the Americans as Hacksaw Ridge.  He was the first noncombatant to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While I did recently see the movie, which I again highly recommend, my gratitude for this hero was brought on today by visiting the site of the actual Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, Japan.  While much of the area is now covered with buildings and a very large cemetary, it was still awe inspiring to walk somewhere where something so heroic took place.

It was a reminder to me that truly heroic people can come from literally anywhere, and that we must never underestimate the power of a human soul who simply wants to do good and help other people.

I will likely never be asked to do something as difficult as Desmond Doss, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for all of us to be equally heroic.  That’s why today I am grateful for heroes who inspire us to do those heroic things.

What are you grateful for?

Saying Goodbye

I realize this is usually something people absolutely dread.  I even know a few people that refuse to say those words.  While those situations where these words are applicable are never fun, there is something to be grateful for.  

The way I see it, if you dread saying goodbye, that means you care about the person.  It means you made a connection and you valued their presence.

It may mean that they were a great worker or simply a great friend, but whatever the case may be, their leaving is going to leave a void in your life.

I have had times where I really wasn’t too sad about leaving, and as I look back that is actually a much sadder situation.  To have spent any significant amount of time somewhere and not be sad about leaving means that there were no great connections.  

People are the best part of life so what a shame if we missed out on an opportunity to connect with people in a new area.

As a military member saying goodbye is a regular occurrence, though it doesn’t make it any easier.  But what it does is make you grateful for all of the amazing people you get to meet.  That’s why tonight I am grateful for saying goodbye.

What are you grateful for?

A Good Day’s Work

I’ll be honest, work has been pretty darn slow recently.  I did discover yesterday that there were a few more things I could be doing, but it would not have given me all that much.

It really is just the nature of most jobs in that there are ebbs and flows when it comes to the amount of work that needs to be done.  With the transition that my squadron is in right now it has just been a serious ebb for me, but not so much today.

Today was a nice little change with a ton of stuff to do, and even a deadline to get it done by.  It was so nice to actually have something to accomplish, and the ability to get it done.

It always helps to have a friend there to get work done with, and I had just such a person today.  To take a moment to brag on him, I love working with Lawton because we are able to talk out the problems or challenges that we face and come up with a solution.  We are both able to speak freely and spit out ideas, no matter how stupid they may be.  This ability to share ideas without fear of destructive criticism has been invaluable as we try to make the processes better and set those who will come after us up for success.

This morning, and actually even starting yesterday, was an excellent opportunity to work through just such a process in an attempt to refine it and make it easier for our shop which is facing a significant manning reduction in the very near future.

It was so great to use our minds and look for solutions.  We were able to handle a ton of paperwork in a relatively short period of time and really test out the process that we had altered the day before.  We were then able to refine the process again afterwards and make the whole thing even better.

While I have always been partial to a good day of physical labor, it can be equally rewarding to have a good day of mental labor.  That’s why today I am grateful for a good day’s work.

What are you grateful for?

The C-130H Hercules

C-130 sunsetDon’t tell my wife, but I have been having a secret love affair for the past five years.  Actually, it’s not a secret, she knows.  That’s right, I am in love with a 100,000 pound piece of pure engineering genius.

Not only that, but she is an older woman (women?).  My current loves are all 43 years old, but some of their sisters are over 60.

Enough with the secrecy, I am in love with the C-130H Hercules…oh wait, it was in the title.

In all seriousness, I genuinely do love this amazing airplane.  There are not really enough positive words to express my affection for her.  To be totally honest and straightforward, I thought I didn’t want to be on a C-130 when I first became a navigator, but after this five year love affair, I can’t imagine being with anyone else.

The C-130 is definitely not the flashiest plane in the Air Force inventory.  It doesn’t fly the fastest, or the highest.  It can’t be refueled in the air (those crazy special operations variants can), and it makes its living executing what we affectionately call, trash hauling.

What it can do is fly low to the ground and deliver cargo to those who need it.  That may be troops on the ground, or it may be survivors of a hurricane or earthquake.  We can also land at remote, unimproved landing strips, which means it is the one that brings the first people in to get things ready for everyone else.

I really could go on and on extolling her virtues, but it is probably easier to just redirect you to my other blog where I do so on a regular basis: AviationGuy.com.  Also please enjoy the video below.

I know I haven’t gotten to fly her in far too long, and maybe it is just absence making the heart grow fonder, but today I am super grateful for the C-130H Hercules.

What are you grateful for?



The whirlwind of emotions that is my life continues.  Yesterday I returned home from the states leaving my family behind for an unknown period of time.

Not knowing when we will be together again is probably the hardest thing about it.  I just really hate not knowing what is happening in my life and having it in someone else’s control.  

Then this afternoon I received some hope in the form of an email from my commander.  The application I submitted a month ago to move where I will eventually end up one way or another has moved on to the last stage of the approval process.

After a month of absolutely no idea what was happening, it gave me a lot of hope that something is actually going to happen, hopefully quickly, to get me back together with my family.

The pessimist in me wants to say that it could still get denied and I will be stuck here another year, but both the optimist and realist in me say that this makes sense for everyone involved so it is going to go through.  

I know there are very few guarantees in this life, which is why I am always grateful for hope in actually getting what I want.

What are you grateful for?

Unexpected Opportunities

So the event that inspired today’s gratitude may just turn out to be a flutter of excitement followed by disappointment when reality sets in, but it still brought me some excitement.

My life has been full of uelnexpected twists and turns pretty much since I became an adult.  As I look back over the last 20 yeas it has been the unexpected opportunities I have enjoyed the most.

The challenge of this potential opportunity is that it is very much a long shot and I could be screwing up other plans and opportunities on the CHANCE that I could have another one.

I am a bit risk averse when it comes to stuff like this now that I have a family, but that actually adds to the challenge because the other opportunity could be even better for them as well.

So why on Earth would I be grateful for something that is so stressful with so much uncertainty?  Because like I said, the most stressful and uncertain moments of my life have led to some of the most rewarding experiences.  

The whole thing may be a moot point when I wake up in the morning, but either way it was fun to think about, which makes me grateful for unexpected opportunities, whether they come to fruition or not.

What are you grateful for?

Service to My Family

Moving your family across the world can be challenging as I have mentioned previously.  There is just so much to do and so many things to think about that it can be overwhelming.

The thing that makes it possible for me is the service of others helping in any way they can.  I don’t know that I could list all of the ways that we have been helped in the last few weeks, but here is a sampling.

Watching our kids while the house got packed.

Brought dinner so we could focus on getting ready. 

Loaned a car for three days since we sold our car.

Offered their house for us to stay in after all of our stuff was gone.  

Loaned a big van so that all of our stuff and family could get to the airport.

Offered to drive our family to the airport.

Called everyone she knew to get us a babysitter in our new city so we can go look for a house.

Offered her house so we wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel while finding a place to live.

I probably could keep typing for another half an hour with all of the acts of service that have been done for my family.  I would like to think my family is just that awesome that people adore us, but the real reason is that all of these other people are awesome.  

They took time out of their day, or inconvenienced themselves to help my family in a crazy time in our life.  It probably helps that most of them have gone through the same thing before, and will go through it again in the coming months and years, but that in no way diminishes the value of what they did.

It can be incredibly hard to ask other people for help because we don’t want to impose, but I am eternally grateful for the people who stepped up at this challenging time and served my family.