“Helicopter crash in 2012. We lost two guys. A month later I was at the package store when a lady walked up to me and asked ‘Hey are you in that squadron?’ (There was a sticker on my car). I say yes and she says her husband was in the crash; I say, ‘I was the pilot when your husband died.’ Didn’t see that coming that day.
“My dad retired as a Captain in the Navy after 32 years. I never thought I’d follow in his footsteps. During Officer Candidate School, I saw a 53 fly over, and I knew I wanted to fly that. I didn’t know what it did, but I knew I wanted to fly it. In 2012, General Mattis plussed up in the Arabian Gulf. I had just checked into the squadron over there and we were told to go help out with an Oman helo that had crashed. I was flying when we went down, and I had asked for an extra person because I wasn’t comfortable with the number of lookouts we had. He was one of the guys who died. A few months later, my buddy died in another crash. It was awful.
“I drive by Arlington every day on my way to work now. One of my students is there. They say if you join the military and you haven’t lost someone, you will. I look back at what my dad did, fighting in Vietnam, and he got spat on when he got home. That is unsat to me. And now, these kids are out there busting their asses every day, some of them 19 and 20 years old, and it sounds hokey, but, they’re out there defending freedom. They are in firefights and taking grenades and on the front lines sacrificing themselves for America. I don’t think people have an understanding of what that really means.”