The F-4 Phantom, heavy with fuel, began her roll down the tarmac for take off. Going by the book, rotation speed past, hurtling faster down the runway, lift off speed attained, the doomed bird lifted gracefully off the tarmac, landing gear retracting, flaps going up. Slowly, the bird started an uncommanded slow roll to the left, unresponsive to the stick. Bail out, bail out, bail out! Two nearly instantaneous booms as ejection seats struggled at the edge of their design envelope to take their cargo to safety.
The god of Martin Baker, manufacturer of the F-4 ejection seat, smiled that day. A crewman related that he had an out of body experience and watched his physical self hurtle barely off the ground in his seat. All worked as advertised and both men landed safely, literally on the runway. The doomed aircraft crashed across the highway in the Queen's largest forest, exploding in a huge fireball. By the end of the day, the Queen had a new largest forest.
That night Mike, one of the aviators, sat at my dinner table enjoying the thrill of being alive. My young children listened far closer than my wife or I imagined. That dinner remains a defining memory for my youngsters who are now in their thirties. Mike's animation, enthusiasm and excitement burned a lasting image in their minds.
Craig Mullaney's book, The Unforgiving Minute, reminds me of that evening at my dinner table. You are instantaneously in his life. Craig draws you into both his heart and mind; you are "there" whether "there" is West Point, ranger school or Afghanistan. The Obama campaign introduced us. I purchased the book out of both admiration and encouragement. I recommend 'The Unforgiving Minute' because it is superb and important.
Service to community and country count and Craig Mullaney provided that service. Read the book and you know the caliber of the men and women leading our troops and the troops themselves. More importantly, Craig shows the price of service to country and the cost of sacrifices so few individuals endure in our name. Through heavy use of National Guard and Reserve troops, these men and women are in all of our communities. You can do no less than know the price they paid to serve you and the country.
"Blue Star Families is a bridge between military families, the shapers of policy affecting military life, and our nation at large. Through outreach to our government leaders and local civilian communities, we strive to share the unique experiences of our military lifestyle and the pride we feel in our families' service. "
Stephanie spoke of the hardships and the rewards of military service. She stressed the economic and social price the military family pays to serve the country. The disconnect that exists when families return home not just for the service member but the family. They are treated like rare, exotic plants. This is not what they need. The military family needs help and it needs recognition. Please give it and please support them.
These issues percolate in Mullaney's book. These are real challenges and these are real people enduring both the joy and the pain of service. Captain and Mrs. Craig Mullaney, thank you both for your service. Craig, well done and welcome home brother.