When the camera was off…
Full disclosure before you read any further. I was not there; this experience did not happen to me but I saw the picture so it must be true. Unfortunately, I do not have any photo-graphical evidence and I can’t find it on the internet so take this story with a grain of salt and healthy skepticism.
Last time I wrote about how my former squadron was in a constant state of deployment from 2004-2006 and there were times when I went for months without seeing people I consider great, life-long friends because we were on different rotations schedules. This story happened to them and I ten years later, I can’t even remember who was in the picture. I had even forgotten about this small story until I reading the news ticker watching Dallas play last night.
During one of the deployments, Seaborn and Tony were greatly aware of the disconnect that was happening to their squadron so they took one of the building directories at the building entrance and removed all of the letters turning it into a place to post pictures. I don’t know who put the pictures up but one day I walked into the building and there it was. I took a few minutes to scan it and it felt good to see images of everyone. One picture that caught my eye was a photo of several of the Enlisted crewmembers dressed in the tan flight suits surrounding so old, chubby man wearing a gold shirt and jeans. I didn’t recognize the guy but I recognized the background was Shannon, Ireland where we stopped to spend the night before on our return trips.
I reasoned that the reason there were only the Enlisted crewmembers and a couple of crew chiefs in the picture was because they were at the airplane doing the preflight checks while the Officers were in base operations going over the flight plan and doing other administrative things like reading emails, checking sports scores, calling home and raiding the vending machines.
Walking through the building, I saw one of the Loadmasters who was in the picture. Again, I don’t even remember who told me this story. But when they doing their preflight checks, a car pulled up to a business jet that was in the parking spot next to them. Instead of getting on the jet, the owner of the jet walked over to the closest guy to thank them for their service. As they were talking, another crew member walked up to see who was visiting. Then another and another until all the Enlisted guys had stopped performing their preflight duties and were talking to the visitor. He took time introducing himself to every new person and finally asked if he could take a picture with them. Fortunately, someone had a camera and asked his pilot to take a picture for us too. After the photo op, the gentleman went back to his airplane and left.
That man was Arnold Palmer. My thoughts and prayers to him and his family.
Until next time, keep on rockin…