I may be four days late, but the title of this thread is 9/11/11
-- so I'll tell a (non-political) story about what I did four days ago instead of how I felt 10 years ago.
(REWahoo! or one of you Houston Air Force vets, maybe you know more about this "aircraft owner". In retrospect I wish I'd had more time with him.)
While I was in San Antonio for USAA's blogger conference, I did a hit&run road trip to Houston to visit my daughter. (I'll be back next month for a proper E-R.org chapter meeting.)
On Sunday she invited me to
haul supplies for
watch her NROTC unit's participation in the 9/11 Travis Manion Memorial 5K at Ellington Airfield. I figured it'd be a few midshipmen & cadets jogging around a training building... but it was over 4000 racers and a professional timing system, including a dozen military units wearing boots & utes who ran in platoon formation. This being Texas, the runway was sloshing knee-deep in country-western testosterone and you could've cut the patriotism with a chainsaw. And the "starter's gun" was a piece of field artillery.
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We arrived at dawn, and as the sun rose I saw an impressive static display assembling along the runway. A private collector there has a Phantom which still flies. He said it had spent most of its career in Europe and he'd kept up its good condition. Other Phantom enthusiasts scour the world for scrapped airframes and surplus parts, and sell their salvage on eBay to keep the remaining jets flying. Of course this Phantom had been "demilitarized" by cutting most of the electronics cables, so the radar and weapons systems no longer functioned. But looked like it had three coats of wax, and he could fly it VFR. He was even taking up a couple of paying customers this week. I decided not to tease him about his "missing" tailhook...
F-4 continues long-time service to Air Force with new mission
I didn't get much time with him (a big crowd was gathering) so I don't know who he is or the aircraft's whole story. I doubt those officers actually flew this specific aircraft for BOLO. All the teenagers and 20-somethings knew nothing about the history they were observing, so I held a short training session. (There were a few 30-somethings in the class as well.) I may not be a dinosaur but I certainly felt like a woolly mammoth.
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When we went back to the campus my daughter wanted to introduce me to her roommates. My head was still buzzing with USAA awareness from the blogger conference, so the very first thing I noticed on entering her new dorm room was the USAA logo. It was engraved on a citation plate attached to a very nice desk clock, announcing the owner's receipt of the USAA Spirit Award. Like me, you may be wondering "What's the USAA Spirit Award?!?"
Me: "Hey, honey, what's that for?"
Her: "Oh, our unit gets that from USAA for some spirit thing."
Me: "I see your name's engraved on it. Did you have to pay extra for that?"
Her: "No, they gave it to me."
Me: "Sooooo... does this mean that you won the unit's 2011 USAA Spirit Award?"
Her: "Um, yeah, I guess so. But I just think it's a really nice clock."
Teenagers. Engineering students. Navy officer candidates. Future submariners. Or maybe it's a "blissfully oblivious" gene.
Her college doesn't even mention the award on their website, but a few minutes with Google produced this from another ROTC website: "The USAA Spirit Award is given annually to the midshipman who best exemplifies the spirit of the unit, community, and the nation. Midshipmen receive a special award and certificate, and have their names engraved on a plaque in the ROTC building."
I sent an e-mail to my new USAA friends, who forwarded my thanks to the Spirit Award guys.
I don't miss active duty one bit (!) but I enjoyed the weekend.