Breaking from Pamir 62 tradition, I have an anniversary from #TenYearsAgo to share.
On this date in 2009, I returned from a 12-month deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Family members were gathered in a large building at Fort Wainwright, Alaska to welcome our formation home. What a goose-bumps moment; hearing the band play a booming patriotic melody as our formation marched in the and the garrison commander announced “Ladies and Gentleman, your heroes have arrived home!”
I am immensely proud of the soldiers of 6th Squadron 17th US Cavalry and all we accomplished while we were deployed. I am lucky to have served with such a wonderful group of Great Americans.
As happy as we all were to return home to the midnight sun in Alaska, our hearts were heavy because we came home without two among our ranks. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of our friends Don and Chris.
July 12, 2009
On this date in 2014, Lori & I participated in the Boll Weevil 100. It is an annual bike ride event that raises money and awareness for Wounded Veterans.
I was very proud to be able to participate, thankfully the course was very flat. Due to my misunderstanding of how the course was marked, we rode too far before we turned around, so the 7-mile loop turned out to be a 9-mile loop.
Here are couple of links to articles published at the time of the event:
May 10, 2014
It had been nearly eight months (234 days) since the “recent unpleasantness” near Shindand on September 7, 2013. A few days prior I had been cleared (medically) to fly again. Now it was time to put my wings to use and start earning my keep at work.
CW3 Brian Spotts was the Flatiron UH-72A flight instructor I flew with, and I was damn proud to have TSgt Matty Garcia with us. Lieutenant Colonel Terry Griffith had recently returned home from Afghanistan and was able to come by to make sure I returned this aircraft in the same condition as when I took off.
Lori and the girls came by in time to see me land.
I had missed my “flying again by Easter” prediction by just 9 days.
I never could have done it without all the amazing support in the months since being wounded.
April 29, 2014
Five Years Ago, I received my updated DA Form 4186, Medical Recommendation for Flying Duty; commonly referred to as an “upslip”. It was APPROVED!
I was back on flying status!
It had been nearly 8 months (230 days) since I was wounded on that pinnacle in Afghanistan, but now I had my wings back!
I was scheduled for my first flight on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. It was time to get back to work.
April 25, 2019
On 5 April, 2014, Lori and I were honored to be invited to Savannah, Georgia to attend the two-tiered celebration of 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion; this formal event was their re-deployment ball upon their return from Afghanistan, and the Saint Barbara’s Day Ball.
The Task Force commander, Lieutenant Colonel David Casey, was in the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) when the call came from the ATC tower that there was a “fallen angel” – an operational term for downed aviator. When a location was obtained, it turned out that I was technically just a little bit in the Italian contingent’s sector. He told me later via email: “Our thought process was simple, an American pilot down deserved an American recovery, regardless of Battle Space Owner or enemy situation.”
Those guys must have set a land-speed record for an MRAP getting to me.
In the pictures below: (1) Lori and me striking a pose at our dinner table (2) Lori and me with some of my heroes from 3rd platoon, Charlie Battery, 1-214th Field Artillery, Georgia National Guard. (3) LTC Casey and me. (Fancy Cane not pictured, and the photographer seems to have cut Lori’s Fancy Shoes out)
March 28, 2013
I was on my way from Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan to Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA for my mid-tour R&R. All flights heading outbound connect at Kandahat Air Field (KAF).
While I was on the base overnight, I was able to link up with friends CW3 Cameron Nowell and CW3 Tracy Hobbs for dinner at (believe it or not) KAF’s TGIFriday’s.
Along the way around the airbase, I saw the sign for Elvis Presley Blvd, but I knew Graceland wasn’t nearby.
Four years ago, March 25 2015, MSgt Matty Garcia was awarded a Soldier’s Medal for his actions to during my rescue in Afghanistan on September 7, 2013.
It was an honor to be there at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with him & his family and with Maj Mary Clark (Jayhoon 11, Mi-17 pilot) for the ceremony.
It isn’t every day one gets to talk with the USAF Chief of Staff, Gen Mark Welsh. It certainly is not common for someone to get to enjoy a beer with the people that were so instrumental in their own rescue operation.
On March 25th, 2014, I was nervous and excited to be flying again. As part of my pursuit to get back in the air, I had to show that I could preflight an aircraft, get in and out of the aircraft, as well as be able to actuate the anti-torque pedals. I was permitted to do this in a simulator only.
I was lucky to have my friend and fellow Kiowa Warrior aviator, CW4 Al Mays take me up in the Kiowa Warrior simulator.
We flew for 1.5 hours; it was great to be back up, if only simulated (this time).
It was another step towards returning to flight duty!
I didn’t know at the time, but that was also to be my last flight in the Kiowa Warrior simulator. I only ever got to fly the Kiowa Warrior one more time after that before my beloved aircraft and I were each retired.
On this date in 2013, some 3-4 Cavalry alumni had a mini-reunion at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.
Lee “Hulka” Lane and I were serving on the MD530 Team, Scot Cowie was a contractor flight instructor on the Team, and Cameron Nowell was serving elsewhere in Afghanistan, but made a short trip out to visit us.
I have been invited to speak at Oak Park Place in Baraboo on Tuesday, February 26th at 2 p.m.
The fliers have been mailed out in the Baraboo area. I must say, I have never received a mass-mailer invitation for a presentation that I am giving.
I have an audio/visual presentation to give, I’ll take questions and will have books available for purchase.
If you’re planning to attend, Oak Park Place asks that you RSVP via telephone (608) 355-4111 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.