My son Brady is a Staff Sargent in the United States Air Force. In this photo he is doing what he loves, and when I think of him I hear his well-written music in my mind, so this image is one of my favorites.
Brady has fought in Iraq and has seen things you and I wouldn’t want to even dream about. War takes it’s tole on everyone, but it has not taken away the very big heart he has had since he was quite young.
There have been many times where I wish I could go back and raise my kids all over again, and correct the many mistakes I made as a parent, but then I realize that if I did that then Brady wouldn’t be who he is today and leading in such amazing ways.
He was recently sent to Haiti on a mission to assist Haitians recover during the aftermath of the earthquake. Below is a story of his first flight there. I asked him if I could share his experience with my readers and he agreed. I have one request; please donate wherever you can and whenever you can to help this mission. Haiti will need help for a very, very long time.
To my son…You are a leader. I love you very much.
What I do for Haiti, and for Myself…
Flying in to Port Au Prince was like flying into a war zone. Mass devastation, yet the local grounds and natural land formations seemed untouched.
As we got closer to touching down, they warned us that it was going to be an abrupt stop. That was an understatement. The rear of the plane hit the tarmack with the smoothest of ease…but as the wheels began to grip, the front end slammed into the ground. The pilot hit those breaks with what seemed like every ounce of strength he had. You could smell the rubber coming off the wheels as we roared down the runway. He threw on the reverse thrusters, improving our stopping power even more.
Ever been shot out of a cannon into a brick wall? Me either, but I bet it was pretty close to this. As the flying barge quickly (and thankfully) lost momentum, the pilot came over the loud speaker saying he was sorry for the quick stop but he was afraid he would run off the runway…(what a great feeling of security).
During the whole ordeal, I heard the faint whisper of a stewardess in my mind “contents may have shifted during flight…” Everything was everywhere…nearly losing 6 pallets of high stacked water and 4 pallets of food to what would have been a watery mess in the belly of the aircraft. I had to gather my belongings up, which had become UFOs during the landing, from the front of the giant open bay.
As we FINALLY came to a stop, engines still blaring, we dropped the aft-hatch of the Globemaster. What we saw were things I’ve only seen in movies before…people sitting/laying everywhere. Helos taking off and landing in any open spot on the fields adjacent to the runway and taxiways, crews rushing to meet the injured people on the ground. Planes of all types and other Helos flying overhead in search of others need aid…there seemed to be absolute mass caos. I swallowed hard and stepped off the plane.
I was met by a thousand staring faces. They all seemed to have the same questioning look of ‘what were we doing there’ and ‘do we have any food?’ Most seemed to be worried about being able to leave the country while others pointed to the food and water now being offloaded from the rear of the plane.
It took all of about 2 seconds before I noticed all the cameras…CNN and other world news agencies feverishly working to capture the pain and anguish of the Haitian peoples faces…it killed me. No hesitation…no common courtesy or decency to leave the people be…just cameras all up in their pain and suffering…inches away from their faces. What happened to being here to help? It seemed as though they were there more for the story and a shot at getting that ‘network’ position. As I stood guard at the front door of the plane, I counted the cameras I could see…97 cameras in a 150 ft gap…INSANE!!! I just don’t get it sometimes…
I stood guard outside for the AC for a little over an hour…engines still roaring…until it was time to board. Watching those lucky few faces shine, as though they won the lottery, climb onto the plane was one of the best rewards i could have asked for. It wasn’t the same as rebuilding their house or church, or bringing their animals back to life, but it sure was a close damn second. I didn’t really know what to expect when I volunteered for these missions but I sure figured out why real quick.
As we taxied out to the runway, there was a rabid excitement in the childrens faces. For some, it was their first plane ride…ever…for others, it was the last time they’d ever see the place they called home. At any rate, they were smiling.
Once we were airborn, we handed out the little bit of food and water we had on board…can you imagine…being so hungry and thirsty and the first real sustinance you get is a variety of cookies and powerade…nice. What a ‘Welcome to America’ showing…lol! Needless to say, the kids were STILL smiling.
They gathered up any and every little thing they could possibly find. The Haitians were apprehensive at first but eased their nerves when they saw more food waiting for them just off the back end of the plane. I carried an orphan out and put him down next to one of the female agents. As soon as his feet hit the ground, he squeezed my neck with all his might and took off running towards the food line.
The trip had come full circle for me. What transformed from an early wake-up and just another mission, turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life. I’m honored to do the work I do. I’m honored to have to opportunity…I love being an American.
Have a great day everybody. I hope this provides a little hope for you for our nation and for the world.
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