Tuesday, May 20, 2008

JSOH AAR

Ever heard the phrase “I know a guy?” Well, as it happens in this case I was lucky enough to know a girl; my daughter, Sevilla. She’s an AF officer and was on the Andrews AFB Joint Service Open House Air Show Committee. See the connection? She knew the right people, and I knew her. The connection sure worked for me! I had an absolute blast attending the Air Show (along with a huge number of other people . . . they had to turn people away on Saturday). Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of Air Shows, including a number of JSOH Air Shows at Andrews. But this was the most fun I’ve ever had at an Air Show. I think part of the reason it was such fun is because I wasn’t really working the JSOH, like I had been in the past. I also had the chance to take time and meet a lot of really fun and extremely interesting people. So, here’s my After Action Report.

My daughter, Sevilla, has a lot of good friends. One of them is a military science fiction author, Julie Cochran. (Yes, I have her permission to use her name in this blog post. Read her books, you won’t regret it.) Julie had made arrangements with Sevilla to attend the JSOH to do research for an upcoming book. Sevilla, being the type of friend she is, invited Julie to stay at our house. I was there when she extended the invitation, and even though I didn’t know Julie very well at the time, I seconded the invite. Am I’m glad that I did. Julie went to the JSOH to do research, so she was working. I went to just have fun. Mission accomplished! For both of us.

Julie wanted to talk to guys involved with special operations, specifically SEALS. She found some, I’ll call them “Shades,” “Sharkbite,” “Capo,” and “Slim.” Julie hung around them, picking their brains and absorbing their personalities. I watched her do her magic-author-thing; but I also wandered around, meeting all kinds of new and interesting people. I’m kinda like my Dad in that I like to just talk to random strangers. It’s what made him such a good fixture at the Indian Taco booth each year at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Mom would fix the food, and he’d BS with the customers. But I digress. The four guys on this team were very impressive. Not only did they obviously know their mission and their equipment, but they were well trained, articulate and intelligent. I’m certain the Navy wouldn’t send just any one to man a static display at a premier show like the JSOH, but these guys were top-of-the-line. I’d like to talk about one little incident to demonstrate what I mean.

At one point, two peaceniks confronted both “Shades” and “Sharkbite” with the most of the standard anti-war arguments. Although I didn’t see the start of the discussion, the two young men handled themselves very professionally, responding to the peaceniks’ arguments with logic and fact. When one of the peaceniks started to get a bit agitated, “Shades” very calmly cooled him down, using reason and well-placed, very subtle humor. Impressive! I watched the last half of this exchange from a step or two back, away from the display tables, while Julie involved from the beginning and watched from the middle of the exchange. Because I was able to see the entire area, I noticed something Julie wasn’t able to see. During the entire discussion, “Capo” (who, as the more strong, silent type, seems more subtly dangerous than the rest) stood in the middle of the display tables, behind both “Shades” and “Sharkbite;” not participating in the discussion, but extremely aware of what was going on and extremely ready to act if necessary. When I walked toward the display, he was so “on” that I actually felt his awareness zero in on me for a moment, assess whether I was (or was not) a threat, then switch back to the discussion. He was able to remain aware of the multitude of kids climbing into and out of the mini-sub behind him, the two adults picking up weapons and posing for pictures, the teenager and his mother in front of me handling a handgun and still tell I was not a threat; all while keeping his attention focused on what was happening while the two other SEALS professionally responded to diffuse the agitated arguments of the peaceniks. For me, those few moments captured the essence of these young men. This is the quality of the individuals that have chosen to answer the call to serve. God Bless them all!

I also met up with my cousin, “G.Smiley” at the Air Show. He was suitably impressed by the VIP treatment afforded by our connections, and was gratified by the vantage the special passes gave for viewing the Air Show. He’s promised to send some of the pictures. I do have to say, watching the Air Force’s Heritage Flight, where an F-22 flies in formation with a F-15, F-104 and a P-51 does something to make this AF-vet proud. There’s also something that just makes your spine tingle when you watch the F-22 make square 90-degree turns. Watching an airplane do something that seems impossible is just awesome. Of course, the headliners like the Blue Angles and the Golden Knights were fun to watch, as well. But the best part of the Air Show for me was meeting and talking to the people there, from all over, who appreciate the hard work and professionalism of the men and women of our Armed Forces. I do have to say though, that the people who work hard behind the scenes to put on that show every year deserve the biggest and best round of applause for a job extremely well done! The JSOH was a resounding success in my book.

2 comments:

fuzzy bear said...

Just read your piece about the airshow. Wish I could have been there. I to am impressed with the young men and women in our armed forces..they have such a spitir about them.. they are a special group of young people. Give my contratulations to Sevilla..

Sevillalost said...

Glad you had a good time, mom. Julie seemed to do so, too, so that makes me happy.

Although I'm sure the Marines you flirted with and the guys at the Red Bull Energy Station will be sad that they didn't make your Blog. Not to mention my various Flight Engineers. :)

Sevilla